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Opening cantonment roads to public is most irresponsible decision by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
After the Uri army camp and Pathankot airbase attacks in the recent past, almost daily attacks by jehadis are taking place in the Kashmir Valley on security forces.

In 2002, at least 34 people including 22 Army men and their family members had been killed when militants stormed an Army camp at Kaluchak near Jammu.

It is unthinkable that somebody can be so indifferent towards the nation's armed forces to take a decision of throwing open 62 cantonment roads to the public at one go, jeopardising the lives of our soldiers and their families. This shocking decision has been taken by the new Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the behest of some BJP leaders having scant regards for national security.

What's even more surprising is that the top brass of the Indian Army including the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat did not utter even a single word against this most bizarre order. The only person to take a stand against this order was Commander-in-Chief, Southern Command, Lt General DR Soni.

Just about a week back Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in consultation with the babus straddling the Ministry of Defence (MOD), ordered 62 cantonment roads in India be opened to public, directly affecting the security of cantonments, which was till now the responsibility of the Local Military Commanders of the Army on the spot.

No thought was given to the fact that in these 62 Army cantonments lakhs of families and children of the Army personnel stay, especially of those Army personnel who are deployed in border areas doing their duty with full focus on the enemy knowing that their families and children are safe, guarded by their brothers in arms currently housed in peaceful and high-security cantonments. But after this order would that be possible? If security has no meaning then why just 900 Mps and ministers including Nirmala Sitharaman are guarded round the clock by 47000 police and para military personnel? This figure does not include 3889 MLAs guarded by the respective state police forces.

These cantonments both in India and Pakistan had come up during the British days with an aim to keep the Army away from the hustle and bustle of civilian areas so that armed forces personnel could concentrate on their military duties and training with their families living in safety. That is why generally all cantonments are situated 8-10 km away from the cities. However, over a period of time these cities have expanded and have come in close vicinity of Army cantonments. Nevertheless, the Army has kept its cantt areas clean, well planted with trees and interspersed with green parks.

After these roads are opened to public litter will get thrown all over the cantonments. Now compare this with the security in Pakistani cantonments where recently a Naval Guard at the entry road of Mehran Naval Base near Karachi shot the 14-year-old son of an Air Marshal of Pakistan Air Force because the boy tried to rush through without disclosing his identity.

What these netas and babus do not understand is that these barriers are necessary and security checks are important because you can check ID of an individual at the entry point only. This is now common practice not only in India but the world over. Do we not have to undergo security checks during air travel? In America they even strip check you. So what is wrong if at the entry points of the cantonments ID checks are carried out on random basis? 

After all, very costly war equipment and weapons are housed in cantonments. We do not want enemy spies to take their photos and send them across the border. Similarly if jehadis who are now prowling all over the world, decide to enter a school in a cantonment and kill students, as they did in Peshawar, Pakistan where 170 school children lost their lives, will Nirmala Sitharaman take the responsibility?

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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