Army special trains to meet operational needs on northern, eastern borders

Fresh instructions also issued on work in compliance with extended lockdown.

Updated - April 17, 2020 12:21 am IST

Published - April 16, 2020 03:43 pm IST - New Delhi

Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane in Srinagar on April 16, 2020.

Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane in Srinagar on April 16, 2020.

To meet the operational requirements on the northern and eastern borders during the lockdown period, the Army has decided to run two military special trains on April 17 and 18, Army sources said on Thursday.

Separately, the Army issued fresh instructions to personnel on work and movement in compliance with the extended lockdown.

“Only personnel due to rejoin units deployed on the northern and eastern borders and have undergone the mandatory quarantine period and found medically fit will be accommodated,” a source said.

The train on April 17 would run between Bengaluru - Belgaum - Secunderabad - Ambala - Jammu and the one the next day would run between Bengaluru - Belgaum - Secunderabad - Gopalpur - Howrah - New Jalpaiguri - Guwahati, the source stated.

This would enable decongestion of Category A and B training establishments in Bangalore, Belgaum, Secunderabad and Gopalpur as well as assist in operational preparedness of active formations deployed on the borders, the sources said. The Army was also coordinating with the Ministry of Railways for operating additional trains in the coming weeks.

Instructions on work, movement

With lockdown extended till May 03, the Army issued separate instructions to personnel up to April 19 and from then to May 03. As per the instructions, all military establishments, cantonments, formation headquarters and units would observe strict “No Movement” till April 19, the sources said. Only personnel connected with provision of essential services would be allowed to move.

A second source said that within the Army headquarters, only Military Operations, Military Intelligence, operational logistics and strategic movement branches would function to carry out operational and COVID-19 related tasks while keeping the duration of the stay and strength at bare minimum. All other branches have been asked to work from home till April 19 with any specific task to be handled on a case to case basis.

Similarly, in the Command headquarters, only manpower, logistics and operations branches would function with skeletal staff. At the Northern and Eastern Commands, the intelligence branch would also additionally function.

From April 19 to May 3, offices in the Command and formation headquarters may start functioning at 50% strength, while the Directorate General Medical Services (Army), medical establishments and hospitals would continue functioning at full strength to provide a robust response to COVID-19.

However, as per instructions, all training activities and temporary duties would remain suspended till May 3 as also social, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious gatherings and regimental or ceremonial functions.

The second source added that any offices falling in ‘Hotspots or Containment Zones’ will observe strict “No Movement” till they are denotified and any exceptions to be given would be at the discretion of the local military authority.

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