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India: Kashmiri Youths Defy Threats to Join Armed Forces

“I don’t care about the threats. If these threats begin to scare us, we will not be able to do any jobs."

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Army post, Kashmir Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gulfam Asim Khan is among thousands of jobless and educated young Kashmiris who are defying warnings from armed separatists by pursuing careers in the Indian armed forces and security services.

Last week, the 22-year-old appeared for a written test that is a prerequisite for signing up with the army.

“I am passionate about joining the army. I am hopeful that I will clear the written test, and my dream of becoming a soldier will come true,” Khan, a Kupwara resident, told BenarNews.

He was one of 12,000 potential recruits who underwent a series of rigorous physical tests in the volatile Kupwara district of Indian-administered Kashmir between May 19 and May 21, although the banned separatist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) had recently threatened to kill anyone who joined the Indian military or security agencies.

Six hundred of the applicants were shortlisted for the written exam.

But just a day before Khan sat for the Indian Army entrance test on Thursday, army porter Liyaqat Ali, 22, was gunned down by suspected HM militants in Kupwara.

Khan, a resident of the district, shrugged off the threats.

“I don’t care about the threats. If these threats begin to scare us, we will not be able to do any jobs. Where would educated Kashmiri youths like me go? There is already a massive dearth of jobs in the private sector in the state,” Khan said.

A new trend

A separatist insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, which is claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, has killed more than 70,000 people since the late 1980s.

Kashmiri applicants sit for the Indian Army’s entrance exam in Kupwara, Kashmir, May 21, 2016 Image Source: BenarNews
Kashmiri applicants sit for the Indian Army’s entrance exam in Kupwara, Kashmir, May 21, 2016 Image Source: BenarNews

The Indian Army said it had advertised 55 vacancies, for which it received more than 12,000 applications – a sharp contrast to the early 1990s, when Kashmiri youth stayed away from joining the armed forces.

“It is a good sign that more and more Kashmiris are gradually showing interest in joining the army so that they can contribute to nation-building in a better way,” Col. C.B.S. Bhadwal, commanding officer of the Kupwara-based 160 Territorial Army, responsible for the recruitment drive, told BenarNews.

The results of the written exam will be publicized in June, Bhadwal said.

Ishfaq Ahmad, a 25-year-old graduate from the town of Karnah, which is close to the Line of Control (LoC) – the boundary that separates the parts of Kashmir that are claimed by India and Pakistan, respectively, said the army should have advertised more vacancies.

“Considering the joblessness in Kashmir, the army should have advertised at least 1,000 jobs so educated youths in the state have enough opportunities to make something of their lives,” Ahmad told BenarNews.

According to official figures, about 600,000 Kashmiris between the ages of 20 and 30 are unemployed.

“The threats from separatists notwithstanding, we have to work to earn money. Besides, one who aspires to be a soldier must be prepared to face and overcome such challenges,” said Shamim Ahmad Khan, 24, who applied for one of the 55 vacancies.

“The pay in the Indian Army is decent so I didn’t want to lose out on this opportunity,” Khan told Benar. (Source: Benarnews)

ALSO READ: 

  • AJ Krish

    It seems that the Kashmiri youth do not harbor any ill feelings towards our country.And they now want to join the Indian Army.Whether the cause is unemployment or something else entirely,i have mixed feelings about this.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is so inspirational. Knowing the situation of Kashmir, when youth comes forward with such an ideology, it gives me a great pleasure in calling Kashmir a state of my country- INDIA

  • devika todi

    is it unemployment or love for this country that is making the youth of kashmir join the army?

  • Paras Vashisth

    It is a great symbol for Indian army that most of the kashmiri youngsters wants to work for India. The Indian army always try to motivate them for giving more and more exams.

SHARE
  • AJ Krish

    It seems that the Kashmiri youth do not harbor any ill feelings towards our country.And they now want to join the Indian Army.Whether the cause is unemployment or something else entirely,i have mixed feelings about this.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is so inspirational. Knowing the situation of Kashmir, when youth comes forward with such an ideology, it gives me a great pleasure in calling Kashmir a state of my country- INDIA

  • devika todi

    is it unemployment or love for this country that is making the youth of kashmir join the army?

  • Paras Vashisth

    It is a great symbol for Indian army that most of the kashmiri youngsters wants to work for India. The Indian army always try to motivate them for giving more and more exams.

Next Story

Development Projects Have to Be Speeded Up and Monitored in Kashmir

The leadership of the Valley parties made a mockery of governance all these years ensuring neither development of the people nor their protection

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Development, Projects, Kashmir
The law abiding citizens in the state had for years lived under the shadow of terrorism unleashed by the heavily armed Mujahideen infiltrated from across LoC by Pakistan, had had no perceptible gains. Pixabay

A month down the line since the state of Jammu and Kashmir, excluding Ladakh, was turned into a Union Territory for the purpose of administering it better and put in its entirety in an initial cover of prohibitory orders under Sec 144 CrPC, there is a successful advance in the calibrated opening up of the civic life on the ground and a corresponding weakening of the splintering opposition that had shown up against the Centre’s move within and outside of India. The law abiding citizens in the state had for years lived under the shadow of terrorism unleashed by the heavily armed Mujahideen infiltrated from across LoC by Pakistan, had had no perceptible gains of development from the totally corrupt governments of the Valley parties whom they successively voted for and had been made a pawn between pro-Pak separatists and a collusive state administration which did not even care to prevent civic disturbances masterminded by Pak agents in the Valley. The leadership of the Valley parties made a mockery of governance all these years ensuring neither development of the people nor their protection against Pak-sponsored violence. In a pathetic display of total lack of accountability, top leaders of the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) publicly stated that India should talk to Pakistan if stone pelting had to be stopped. Even the direct support given by the Centre to Mehbooba Mufti government through a coalition did not get the latter to change its pro-separatist ways and ambiguous approach on cross border terrorism.

Considering the statement of Prime Minister Modi that the change of status of J&K was temporary, the logic of why that step was taken would be that it was not a downgrade but a move by which the Centre assumed direct accountability for providing the Kashmiris with gains of development and a strong protection against violence perpetrated by a hostile neighbour — the erstwhile rulers of the state having done nothing beyond securing themselves with large posse of armed guards. Articles 370 and its product 35A were used by the state rulers to keep themselves in power in connivance with the pro-Pak lobby — there was no benefit that they brought to Kashmiris in their day to day life. A few days of comfortable life indoors for them is, in fact, helping these leaders politically. The citizens of the state looked forward to being served by the democratic dispensation at the local and central levels — they knew the issue of India talking to Pakistan lay on the turf of the national governments of the two countries. Abrogation of Article 370 was an exercise of the Constitutional power by India. The international community has upheld the move as an internal matter for this country — reaffirming the fact that the state of J&K was an integral part of India.

The questions being raised by sections of political opposition in India and some pro-Pak lobbies and human rights advocates abroad are about the nature of clampdown that exists in J&K since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A was announced on August 5. A primary reason for the Centre’s action was the fact that Pak-sponsored terrorism had progressively destroyed Kashmiriyat that defined the identity of the state and had made the people submit to the call of Jehadis — with a set of self-seeking politicians conniving with the adversary and ganging up with the separatists to somehow stay in power. The state administration had done precious little to identify and neutralise the growing network of Pak agents and masterminds out to destabilise the state by precipitating civic disturbances through organised stone pelting and obstructing the pursuit of infiltrated terrorists by armed forces in Intelligence based operations. A bunch of youths in the Valley — represented by the likes of Burhan Wani — had armed themselves with the supplies from Pakistan and had started taking orders directly from Maulana Hafiz Sayeed, the chief of Lashkar-e-Toiba in that country. They had to be taken down along with the infiltrated terrorists in the larger interest of the peace loving people of the state.

The apathetic administration of the state, known to be harbouring many sympathisers of Pakistan, had created a situation where without an initial clampdown the state would have been swamped by the Pak agents determined to create violence and disorder. The situation did not allow any scope for disruptive politics by the opposition in the state and justified the restraining of the Valley leaders who stood discredited for their misgovernance and corrupt ways. A lot of work had to be done to preempt the activities of separatists and Pak agents and it is quite understandable that a few days of harshness of an indoor existence would be faced by the citizens for their own good. In a fortnight the calibrated relaxation of land line communication and restoration of essential supplies and hospital services had begun and it is hoped that soon shopkeepers will open up notwithstanding a few minor disturbances created here and there by the remnants of trouble makers still operating in some lanes and Mohallas in the Valley. The administration has to show an improvement every week as far as the return to normalcy is concerned. The Supreme Court is to be appreciated for understanding the gravity of the situation in Kashmir and not giving clearance for open political activity there for the time being.

Development, Projects, Kashmir
A month down the line since the state of Jammu and Kashmir, excluding Ladakh, was turned into a Union Territory for the purpose of administering it better and put in its entirety in an initial cover of prohibitory orders. Pixabay

The challenge for the Centre in Kashmir is to show a demonstrable improvement in the day to day life in the Valley even as assembly of people on the street is discouraged for some more time to come. The visibility of the armed forces deployed in the state should be tempered by the showing up of civilian functionaries of the state for rendering public services. There is no reason why the Collector and SP of the district should not be seen moving together and holding restricted town hall type of interactions with the people in one area or the other. Heads of leading educational institutions should appear jointly on TV to urge the students to return to classes- assuring them of safe travel in buses. Mobile clinics should be deployed appropriately even as normalcy in hospitals was being restored. Srinagar could have been divided in zones for the purpose of providing complete security to shops on earmarked days of the week in particular areas, till such time as the markets opened completely overcoming the fear psyche that some miscreants on the prowl might have created among the people. Activation of the civic administration is the key to establishing an environ of normalcy.

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For the period ahead, J&K would need a senior cool headed civilian as the Lieutenant-Governor (LG) who understands security and Intelligence, can guide and take work from the state administration instead of only receiving advice and works in close consultation with the Union Home Minister, National Security Advisor and the Army Chief. Development projects have to be speeded up and monitored. The LG of J&K should have a thorough knowledge of the nature of Islamic militancy and roots of outfits used by Pakistan for cross border terrorism and should be able to competently speak up on Kashmir in national and international forums about such matters as restoration of Kashmiriyat and the pride of place in India that Kashmir always enjoyed. India has held its case on Kashmir before the world after the abrogation of its special status and the scattered talk of alleged violation of human rights in the state by Pak lobbyists, is not catching up. What is needed is for India to demonstrate that the state is being administered from Srinagar not Delhi. The message from Kashmir should be that the state was in no danger of being overrun by outsiders even as tourism infrastructure would be developed on a grand scale and business investment boosted for the economic betterment of the people there. (IANS)