KHAKI TENTS powered by ‘kundi connections‘ and protected by few meters of barbed wire, jawans standing behind partially damaged or half constructed security pickets dotting the 54-km long picturesque stretch of country’s most sensitive Jammu-Udhampur railway track continue to paint a grim picture of security considerations more than eight years after the track was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in April 2005.
It is ironic that during all these years agencies who are responsible for securing safety of the track are paying little attention towards urgent needs of the jawans deployed along the hilly track for round the clock patrolling.
“We are living like nomads wearing uniform. We cook our food inside tents and trek hills to fetch bucketful of water for cooking and cleaning purposes.There is no permanent arrangement for supply of water. We face hardships when either it is raining or sweltering sun is out”, jawans said pointing towards vast gaps of hills they trek regularly for their basic needs.
In the coming months as railway authorities are planning to extend few more trains to Udhampur, the jawans are likely to bear the maximum brunt in the absence of infrastructure support.
As per rough estimates, more than 150 jawans are deployed along with batches of GRP and JKP force between Jammu and Udhampur station for ensuring safety of the 54 km track, more than one dozen tunnels,important bridges and on guard duty at platforms but there is no permanent residential accommodation facility.
The situation at the Bajalata, Manwal, Ramnagar and Udhampur railway station was no different either as jawans lacked proper security cover in the absence of security pickets.
At several places the security pickets were found partially damaged posing a great risk to the lives of jawans guarding the posts at the time of action. Along the railway track at several places the pickets were of knee height and lacked proper cover.
“I am fed up with the response of my senior officers towards our security requirements. Raising the issue of increased stress level, a senior RPF officer on duty said that when emphasis is on managing stress level among jawans of security forces else where i fail to understand why we are being deprived of recreational facilities.
“We are also risking our lives and performing our duties to the best of our abilities like all others then why we are facing this discrimination from our own superior officers who have not bothered to understand our hardships.”
Admitting certain loopholes before his junior officers, the security officer said, on number of occasions our seniors have visited us but there has been no improvement or proper followup inorder to improve the facilities.
Meanwhile commenting on the lackadaisical approach of the railway authorities, a senior security expert said, “these jawans are toiling hard to protect every inch of country’s sensitive railway track but when it comes to providing them basic amenities and equip them with modern weapons our system delays fail us miserably”.