Srinagar: After halting the movement of convoys for several days on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the army and government forces have begun to move their vehicles in the night for essential supplies and routine movements.
Sources said that for the first few days of the massive public uprising that followed Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8, the army convoys on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, Kupwara-Srinagar highway and Bandipora-Srinagar road were halted. The government forces were also instructed against venturing out in several sensitive areas in south Kashmir.
“There was no convoy movement for many days when Srinagar-Jammu highway was blocked between Pampore and Qazigund stretch,” a senior official told Kashmir Reader. He said that now the convoy movement has resumed during the night hours.
Sources said that Road Opening Parties come out late in the evening on the highways to secure the roads and after they issue clearances, the movement of army convoys takes place past midnight. On Srinagar-Jammu highway, the clearance was also required for the passage of cavalcade of Amarnath pilgrims, which has now trickled to almost naught. “The Amarnath yatra is almost over now. The main focus is on the movement of army convoys,” he said.
The movement of convoys was already at increased risk after militants attacked a Central Reserve Police Force convoy at Pampore on June 25, killing eight personnel and injuring 22. Before any safety measures were taken to alter or upgrade the convoy movement system, the anti-India uprising threw up a new challenge.
“The movement of convoys is unavoidable but their safety is equally important. The nocturnal movement is a temporary arrangement to avoid direct interface between the protesters and the security forces,” the official said.
The change in schedule affects the routine life of the soldiers and personnel, especially their sleep pattern and activity during the day.
Sources said that in several south Kashmir localities, the army and other government forces have been advised to remain confined to their camps. Even the mine-resistant anti-ambush Casspir vehicles, which are operational in huge numbers in south Kashmir districts, have been restricted to camps.
“The army camps go for essential supplies late in the night. Even for fetching an oil-tanker, a convoy of vehicles sets out during the night hours,” a resident of Awantipora who watches the army movement from his roadside residence, told Kashmir Reader.
The safe movement of army convoys has been a major issue with the Indian army. Lt Gen (retd) Syed Atta Hasnain, during his tenure as commander of Srinagar-based XV Corps between October 2010 and May 2012, altered the movement of convoys on Srinagar-Baramulla and Srinagar-Jammu highways. In a seminar in Srinagar he said that the move was resented by the field officers but “I put my foot down to make it happen.”
Nevertheless, on June 24, 2013, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants attacked an army convoy at Hyderpora in Srinagar and killed 8 soldiers and injured many others. The attack was masterminded by LeT commander Abu Qasim.