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Centre may use J-K local rail routes for moving troops to avoid stone pelters

The home ministry wants to use local trains in Jammu and Kashmir for transporting paramilitary forces, a move aimed at preventing vehicular convoys coming under attack by protesters.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2018 07:18 IST
Azaan Javaid
Azaan Javaid
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Centre,J&K railway network,transport troops
J&K has a 345 km network of local rail routes, starting from Baramulla district of Kashmir and ending in Jammu. Of this, 120 km runs through the Valley. The Kashmir region has a total of 16 railway stations located in north, south and central Kashmir. (PTI/Photo for representation)

The union home ministry wants to use local trains in Jammu and Kashmir for transporting paramilitary forces posted in the strife-torn state, senior officials said on Monday, detailing a move that is aimed at preventing vehicular convoys coming under attack by protesters — and the ensuring reaction from the forces that further exacerbates the situation in the strife-torn Valley.

The state has a 345 km network of local rail routes, starting from Baramulla district of Kashmir and ending in Jammu. Of this, 120 km runs through the Valley. The Kashmir region has a total of 16 railway stations located in north, south and central Kashmir.

The proposal was aired at a security review meeting held in late March under the chairmanship of national security adviser Ajit Doval, home secretary Rajiv Gauba, director of Intelligence Bureau, Rajiv Jain, director general of J&K police SP Vaid and director general of National Investigation YC Modi.

Experts remain sceptical about the practicality of the proposal. Retired IPS officer and former CRPF DG Dilip Trivedi said using local rail routes will open up a whole new front with militants and stone pelters. “Fortunately local railway has been never targeted by militants or stone pelters. I am not too sure about the idea as Kashmir is a high risk zone,” Trivedi said.

A senior home ministry official and a J&K police official both confirmed that the idea is under consideration and that the central government will establish a joint team to look into the modalities of using local rail routes for troop movement. The team, comprising officials from the Indian Railways, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Jammu and Kashmir police, will assess the merits of the proposal.

A very important consideration of the team would be to assess the security risks that come with using rail routes, the senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity. Currently, paramilitary forces rely heavily on the National Highway network within the state and travel in long convoys that have come under attack frequently. “Nothing will be finalised till we can be sure of the safety of our troops,” he added.

The transportation of paramilitary forces was high on the agenda of the March review. Officials familiar with the happenings at the meeting said several other proposals including the creation of a pool of bulletproof buses for movement of security forces in vulnerable areas were also discussed.

First Published: Jun 06, 2018 07:18 IST