Pulwama attack: Home Ministry authorises air travel for CAPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir

The decision of MHA will immediately benefit approximately 7.8 lakh personnel of CAPFs.

Pulwama attack: Home Ministry authorises air travel for CAPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir
IANS photo

New Delhi: In order to secure its CRPF jawans and other paramilitary forces deployed in the Kashmir valley will now be able to travel by air to join duty or while going on leave as the Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday approved their entitlement of taking a commercial flight to and fro Jammu-Srinagar and Delhi-Srinagar.

The decision of MHA will immediately benefit approximately 7.8 lakh personnel of CAPFs in the ranks of constable, head constable and Assistant sub-inspector of police, who were otherwise not eligible earlier. As per the announcement, this will include their journey on duty as well as leave, i.e, while going on leave from Jammu and Kashmir to home and return. 

The decision was conveyed to the chiefs of various paramilitary forces including the BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP and SSB by the Home Ministry and has come into immediate effect, according to a letter made public on Thursday. 

The official Twitter handle of Home Minister of India shared the news in a series of tweets: 

"The Ministry of Home Affairs has approved the entitlement of air travel on Delhi-Srinagar, Srinagar-Delhi, Jammu-Srinagar and Srinagar-Jammu sectors to all the personnel of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces."

"This facility is in addition to the existing air courier services for CAPFs that have been steadily extended in all sectors by the MHA to help the jawans cut down on travel time during their journey to and fro from home on leave."

"In Jammu and Kashmir Sector, it may be recalled that Air Courier Service for CAPFs jawans was approved for the Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu sector. Subsequently, the service was extended to cover — Delhi-Jammu,  Jammu-Srinagar, Srinagar-Jammu and Jammu-Delhi sector in December 2017. The number of flights was further extended in Dec 2018. In addition, air support is provided from Indian Air Force as and when required," the official said.

The ministry said that for the Jammu and Kashmir sector, an air courier service was already available for CAPFs jawans and this was extended in December 2017 to cover more routes like: Delhi-Jammu, Jammu-Srinagar, Srinagar-Jammu and Jammu-Delhi.

 

A senior official said jawans and sub-officers, the ranks who were killed in the February 14 suicide attack in Pulwama in J-K, will now be able to book tickets in commercial flights and claim reimbursement from their organisation or force. "Step will allow more and more personnel to undertake air travel to and from Kashmir but the requirement of running convoys of the security forces cannot be brought to zero," the official told PTI. 

The announcement from the Ministry of Home Affairs comes in the wake of the killing of at least 40 CRPF jawans in a deadly attack on their convoy in Pulwama on February 14. 

As many as 65,000 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel are deployed in the state as part of 65 battalions apart from units of the Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal and the National Security Guard present in the Kashmir valley for rendering a variety of roles in the internal security grid.

Questions were raised as to why these troops are not allowed to travel by air so that the risk and threat of travelling on road, in large convoys in the Kashmir Valley, is eliminated.

(With PTI inputs)