- Centre announced free air travel for CRPF personnel deployed in J&K
- They can use the facility for going home or reporting back to duty
- Move comes a week after 40 CRPF soldiers died in the Pulwama attack
The Home Ministry announced free air travel for personnel of the central police forces who are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir - a facility they can use for going home or reporting back to duty. The announcement comes a week after 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on their 78-vehicle convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
This facility adds to the existing "air courier services" for CAPFs or Central Armed Police Forces in which an entire aircraft is booked for the personnel on some routes, the Home Ministry said.
The announcement also achieves the twin goals of saving money and time for the personnel of the central police forces, as they now have a choice of not going by road, which can be time-consuming and even dangerous.
"The decision will immediately benefit approximately 780,000 personnel of the CAPFs in the ranks of Constable, Head Constable & ASI who were otherwise not eligible earlier. This includes journey on duty and journey on leave, i.e; while going on leave from J&K to home and return," the Home Ministry tweeted.
The routes approved for "entitlement of air travel" are Delhi-Srinagar, Srinagar-Delhi, Jammu-Srinagar and Srinagar-Jammu.
The air courier service is already active on these routes: Delhi-Jammu, Jammu-Srinagar, Srinagar-Jammu, and Jammu-Delhi.
The Home Ministry said it can always ask for transport from the Air Force if needed.
On Thursday last, the long 78-vehicle convoy was running on the Jammu-Srinagar highway when a car driven by a 22-year-old terrorist of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed overtook the vehicles and detonated 60 kg of RDX.
Though questions have been raised on the high threat level that such a long convoy would have had to face while travelling in a file on open road, and whether air transport for them would have skirted the threat altogether, the Home Ministry last week said "movement of convoys by road for logistical and operational reasons has been and will continue to be necessary. This is also the case with the Army."
It denied reports that there was no air transit facility for the CRPF on the Jammu-Srinagar sector, as the courier service was available. "Fact of the matter is, over the last few years, the MHA has significantly enhanced air courier services for CAPFs in all sectors to help jawans cut down on travel time during their journey to and back from home on leave," it had said.