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Nearly 13,000 sign petition against government’s decision to open cantonment roads to civilians

Government recently took the decision to let civilians access roads in all 69 military cantonments across the country.

punjab Updated: May 31, 2018 18:20 IST
Jatinder Kaur Tur
Jatinder Kaur Tur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
open cantonment roads to civilians,petition,signatures
Aastha Bagga is an advocate by profession and a Right to Information activist by passion.(HT Photo)

Nearly 13,000 petitions have been signed on change.org against government’s decision of allowing civilians the access to cantonment roads across the country. Aastha Bagga from Chandigarh is the lady spearheading the signature campaign against government’s recent decision to let civilians access roads in all 69 military cantonments across the country.

“Right now, we have close to 13,000 signatures and counting on change.org. By this weekend, we shall have enough signatures to convince the Ministry of Defence for rolling back its orders,” she said, adding, the petition urging Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to withdraw orders allowing civilians access to cantonment roads was started as a signature campaign.

Meanwhile, the Defence Minister had recently tweeted that she is ready to meet those opposing the orders with an open mind.

Apart from hailing from a defence background, signature campaigner Aastha Bagga is an advocate by profession and a Right to Information activist by passion.

Advocate Aastha while speaking to The Hindustan Times said to provide extra ease to civilian commuters, safety and security of the defence establishments, defence families and ultimately that of the national can’t be jeopardised.

Aastha’s petition is an example of the ongoing backlash from the army wives and families who have joined hands on social networking sites and apps against the orders. “ We are yet to take lessons from attacks at Pathankot and Kaluchak,” she said.

Ex-servicemen up in arms against orders

President All India Defence Brotherhood Punjab defence analyst Brig (retd) Kuldip Singh, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) Haryana chairman Brig Kiran Krisha, termed the orders of opening access to cantonment roads for civilians as an invitation to unhindered access to anti-social and anti-national elements.

These retired officers have urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reverse these orders issued by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“After Sunjuwan terror attack, Sitharaman had set a deadline of 10 months for improving perimeter security in military stations. In a strange twist, she has authored a policy to remove the perimeter itself. With unhindered access to sensitive defence installations, there will be a big security challenge. With free access to cantonment roads, anti-national elements can reconnaissance, observe and case soldiers, military equipment, offices, and unarmed families and children and target them with ease”, said Brig Kahlon.

Threat of terrorism against cantonments, particularly against families living in defence areas has manifestly increased after the recent horrifying attacks at Sunjwan, Nagrota, Samba, Uri and Pathankot,” Brig Krishan said.

These retired officers demanded that such orders driven by vote bank politics and insensitivity towards the security of the country, much to the rejoice of adversaries, should immediately be withdrawn.

First Published: May 31, 2018 18:19 IST