No trains, soldiers unable to come home for festivals - ECAS Punjab

No trains, soldiers unable to come home for festivals

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Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 6

After a year's wait, a young officer from Jalandhar who was serving on the frontline in the North East was looking forward to visit his family after he got a leave, but the disruption of rail movement in the state because of the farmers' agitation has dampened his plans.

The Captain, who was keen to celebrate the festival of lights in his home town, is now unable to travel to his village as no trains are being permitted to enter the state.

He is not alone in this predicament. There are thousands of armed forces personnel from Punjab posted all over the country who had planned to travel home during the festive season. Even those posted in Punjab or up north in Jammu and Kashmir are facing similar difficulties.

According to state government sources, around 1.5 lakh personnel in the armed forces belong to Punjab. "Even if 20 per cent of them have availed leave, the number of affected persons is quite high," a senior Punjab Government official said. "Over the past few days, we have received a large number of queries from the military fraternity, seeking information of the situation and the possibility of travelling to the state, but there is little we can do to help them," he added.

Even those who want to travel from Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of the country are stuck as the only rail link from the newly created union territory lies through the narrow corridor along the Jammu-Pathankot axis in the north-western corner of Punjab.

Earlier during the year, soldiers could not travel on leave due to the lockdown imposed in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and some other restrictions imposed on grant of leave.

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had written an open letter to BJP national president JP Nadda stating that the festering imbroglio could have dangerous consequences not just for Punjab but the entire nation, including the armed forces in Ladakh and Kashmir. He had also warned that the armed forces were likely to be badly affected with the onset of winter, as they could run out of supplies and other requisites once snow blocks the roads to Ladakh and Kashmir. Large quantities of supplies and equipment are moved to and from the western sector, areas in Jammu, Punjab and Rajasthan, via trains. Even formations and units based in Punjab have been affected due to the suspension of rail traffic.

from The Tribune

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