Srinagar: After former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti questioned why the CRPF soldiers were allowed to travel in a convoy, the state's ex-top cop said that he had proposed to airlift soldiers to avoid Pulwama-like tragedy.
He added that exposing forces for a long duration can pose a threat to their lives.
About 2,500 jawans had returned to Jammu from leave and were waiting to be ferried to Srinagar, but couldn't as the highway had been blocked for nearly a week. As the queue of waiting personnel had been getting longer, nearly 78 vehicles started out from Channi Rama transit camp in Jammu for the Valley on Thursday when the terror strike took place.
Reacting to the development, Vaid told News18 on Friday: "The transit alone takes a lot of time, especially when the roads are closed for weeks. This exposes the soldiers for a prolonged duration. I had proposed to airlift the jawans during high-level security meeting of joint forces more than once, and also spoke about it to representatives of state and Union governments."
The primary opposition to such an idea, he realised, would be the costs involved. But, Vaid said, in his presentations he had shown, based on his calculations, that the cost difference in airlifting soldiers to and fro Kashmir was “comparable” to the costs involved in bringing in and out of the valley by road.
“The thing is that on roads, the forces take a long time to reach. If the way is clear they’ll take up to three days to reach, taking all precautions in place. But if the highway is closed due to snowfall, it takes weeks for the forces in transit,” Vaid said.
“Given that the highway is damaged in several places, between Jammu-Banihal stretch for instance, forces are forced to spend more time on road. Such things should be avoided,” he added.
Shesh Paul Vaid, a 1986 batch IPS officer, served as the chief of police force of J&K for nearly two years from December 2016 till September 2018, at arguably one of the most restive periods that the state has seen. He was seen to be removed from his chair unceremoniously after militants abducted a few police officers who were let go only after several rounds of negotiations.
He has since been serving as the state transport commissioner.
(Aakash Hassan is a Kashmir-based freelance writer)