Closure of Army Cantonment Roads to public

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On May 4, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a meeting with MPs and elected vice-presidents of all the 62 Cantonment Boards across the country, along with senior officials of the ministry, Army Headquarters and Directorate General of Defence Estates, following which, on May 21, the Army Headquarters issued a letter that said, “All barriers, check-posts and roadblocks will be removed. Vehicles will not be stopped or checked.” - The Indian Express- 27th May 2018.
I am a civilian living in the Defence Colony, and yet I oppose this move strongly and I have my reasons for it. The jubilation shown by the civilians to the MoD’s announcement disturbs me wholly. It almost felt like they were celebrating a victory over an enemy. Please remember, the army keeps us safe and we have no reason to react aggressively. There were various reports in the leading newspapers on morning walkers berating the soldiers guarding the Cantonment gates on being asked to pick alternate routes for their walks. I have personally witnessed various incidents wherein rash civilian riders/drivers collided with and injured jawans going about their daily chores. Not to forget that the pristine army maintained roads will be destroyed by the increasing public movement.
Though the Type A roads are exclusively for the military equipment and can still be fenced off, the move to open all other Cantonment roads will increase the risk to the army personnel and their families multifold. There is no shield therein to guard them against anti-social elements / terrorists (let’s not forget the terror attacks in Ratnuchak, Pathankot and other Cantts) who will move through the areas with impunity. Army families are soft targets for delivering psychological blows to the soldier. What then happens, if untoward incidents take place in the cantonments and leads to a cascading demoralising effect on the soldiers guarding our frontiers? Don’t they already have enough on their plates already that we should add to their woes? Don’t the soldiers and their families have rights to a feeling of security? It also sends an oblique message to the defence that their views don’t matter in front of the public and government’s diktats. As per my opinion, we are encroaching upon army lands for our convenience and trampling upon theirs. It’s a matter of shame that we speak big things in support of the Indian soldier on social media and do quite the opposite on the ground where it really matters. I am perfectly willing to give up on a few comforts for the soldier. Question is, are you? Will we be hypocrites?
I please urge you to sign the petition, help reach 1 Lakh signatures to enable the matter to be presented to the defence ministry again for reconsideration for the sake of our soldiers comfort for once.

Srikanth



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