New Delhi: Facing the question as to why Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men were not airlifted to their posts while they were returning from vacation via Pulwama, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday approved the proposal that the paramilitary personnel be entitled to air travel on the routes Delhi-Srinagar, Srinagar-Delhi, Jammu-Srinagar and Srinagar-Jammu sectors.

While the MHA approval applies to all personnel of the Central Armed Paramilitary Forces, it does not necessarily follow that there will not be any ground movement. This decision does not make it mandatory for the forces to airlift their men in Jammu and Kashmir.

The decision of airlift will depend on finances and approval of senior authorities. In addition, air support will be provided from the IAF as and when required as per the availability.

“The decision will immediately benefit approximately 7,80,000 personnel of the CAPFs in the ranks of constable, head constable and ASI who were otherwise not eligible earlier. This includes journey on duty and journey on leave, i.e; while going on leave from Jammu and Kashmir to home and return,” MHA said.

“This facility is in addition to the existing air courier services for CAPFs that have been steadily extended in all sectors by the MHA to help the jawans cut down on travel time during their journey to and fro from home on leave,” the MHA added.

In Jammu and Kashmir sector, the air courier service for CAPF jawans was approved for the Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu sector in 2017. The service was extended to cover Delhi-Jammu, Jammu-Srinagar, Srinagar-Jammu and Jammu-Delhi sectors in December 2017. The number of flights were further extended in December 2018.

On February 14, a JeM suicide bomber rammed an SUV car laden with 350 kg of explosives into a security convoy of 78 vehicles carrying over 2,500 personnel in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, killing at least 40 jawans. Most of them were returning to duty after spending their holidays.