"Calibrated Exercise": Army On Row Over Opening Up Cantonment Roads

The army has tried to allay fears by saying if there is any intelligence to suggest a threat, public access would be restricted once again.

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Families of serving officers have now flagged their concerns to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman


New Delhi:  Amid reservations expressed by families of armed forces officers over the opening up of roads in all 62 cantonment areas across the country to the public, the army has said the move holds good for a month after which there would be a review.

"There seems to be some apprehension in the minds of military personnel and their families that the opening of roads may lead to a security situation or traffic congestion. It is clarified that this is a deliberate, calibrated and monitored exercise", the army said in a statement.

Families of serving officers have now flagged their concerns to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

''The decision has made our life vulnerable. We all know what had happened at the family quarters in Jammu and Pathankot. Instead of tightening the security, government has opened the gates to all", said a message posted on Twitter.

The army has tried to allay fears by saying if there is any intelligence to suggest a threat, public access would be restricted once again.

"A free hand has been given to the LMA (local military authorities) to close and control access to the cantonments when there is actionable intelligence input or in case of emergencies", says the army.

Retired offers defend opposition to the government's move, saying sensitive military facilities housed in cantonment areas could be compromised.

"Ordnance warehouses, tank repair facilities and hospitals are also located in cantonments. These sensitive facilities must be protected. With open road access, that cannot happen", Lt General Shankar Prasad (retired) told NDTV.

Politicians like BJP lawmaker Ram Kripal Yadav who has led efforts to open up access to the Danapur cantonment in his constituency Patliputra have an entirely different take.

"Nearly nine years ago, a public road that didn't come under the Danapur cantonment was closed. That affected farmers of nearly 20 villages. The issue was taken up with (former defence minister) AK Antony who had ordered that the road be opened. Yet, it was not done. Shouldn't the welfare of farmers be looked at", asked Mr Yadav.


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