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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

Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Lotus said early snowfall in happening for the second year in succession in Kashmir

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Snowfall, Jammu, Kashmir
The snowfall will peak in the night on November 7, MET said in a statement. Pixabay

Jammu and Kashmir is likely to receive snowfall in the next two days, which could help bring pollution down in neighbouring states.

“The snowfall accompanied by winds will bring down the particulate matter in the air to great extend,” Sonam Lotus, Director of the J&K Meteorological Department, told IANS.

“The active western disturbance and its interaction with cyclone MAHA, currently located in East Central Arabian Sea, is likely to cause moderate to heavy snowfall and rain in plains of J&K, and Ladakh during November 6-8. The snowfall will peak in the night on November 7,” MET said in a statement.

Lotus said early snowfall in happening for the second year in succession in Kashmir. “It’s good for agriculture, but could damage standing crops,” he said.

Snowfall, Jammu, Kashmir
“The snowfall accompanied by winds will bring down the particulate matter in the air to great extend,” Sonam Lotus, Director of the J&K Meteorological Department, told IANS. Wikimedia Commons

The MET has alerted the J&K administration about the likely disruption in road transport, especially through passes, like Zojilla, and on the Srinagar-Jammu-Leh-Manali Highway and Mughal road, due to landslides, low temperature and heavy snowfall.

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is the main link between Kashmir and the rest of the country.

Last year, the highway remained blocked for several days, cutting Kashmir from rest of the country and causing shortage of essentials in the Valley. Normally, the government stocks up essential supplies ahead of the winter, especially for areas like Tangdhar, Gurez and Ladakh. Most of these areas remain disconnected due to heavy snowfall.

Last year also, Kashmir witnessed snowfall in November. Normally, snowfall begins after November on the upper reaches of Kashmir. The 40-day peak winter season called ‘Chila-e-Kalan’ begins from December 20. Snowfall during the period last longer and is a major source for drinking water in summers.

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The lack of adequate snowfall causes shortage of drinking water in Kashmir in some areas, especially those that are not connected to the drinking water system. (IANS)