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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
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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)

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  • 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.

  • 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

Operation Meghdoot: Role of Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force backed the Indian Army during Operation Meghdoot by supplying troops and stores

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Ensign of Indian Air Force. Wikimedia commons
Ensign of Indian Air Force. Wikimedia commons
  • Operation Meghdoot’s objective was to capture the Siachen Glacier.
  • Indian Army expeditions were going on in the high-altitude region.
  • IAF was tasked with supporting the troops with backup and supplies.

Operation Meghdoot was launched in 1984, it aimed to capture the Siachen Glacier. It was quite a unique operation because of Siachen’s dreaded terrain and unforgiving climate. The mission was a successful one, India gained control over the Siachen Glacier.

India now controls the 70 kilometres long glacier and the three major passes west of it (Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La. Whereas Pakistan controls the area west of Saltoro Ridge. The TIME magazine states, India has control over 1,000 square miles of territory because of its exceptional military operation.

You may also like: 20 Amazing Facts About Indian Navy

Siachen glacier, known as the third pole of the world, is one of the most dreaded places in the world. Mainly due to its temperature and terrain. Wikimedia commons
Siachen glacier, known as the third pole of the world, is one of the most dreaded places in the world. Mainly due to its temperature and terrain. Wikimedia Commons

IAF had played a major role in this operation. It used Il-76, An-12, and An-32 to transport troops and drop supplies to these extremely high altitude battlefields. Following which, Mi-17, Mi-8 and HAL Chetak would carry the same to the east.

IAF’s performance was incredible, taking into account how extreme the temperature and altitude are at Siachen. The operation is a saga which showcased such skill that can never be forgotten.

IAF's uncompromising valour made it possible for the Indian Army to capture the Siachen Glacier. Wikimedia commons
IAF’s uncompromising valour made it possible for the Indian Army to capture the Siachen Glacier. Wikimedia Commons

Role of Indian Air Force

When the first IAF sortie was launched to Siachen on 20th September 1978, Chetak helicopters used to supply stores to the on-ground Indian Army. That’s when a thought occurred to one of the IAF officers “Why not pick their emails for their loved ones back home?” They used to drop a string with a note saying “We are coming back in 10 minutes. Please write your letters and put them in a bag.”

This kind gesture of the Indian Air Force symbolized the brotherhood of ‘men in arms’. It also boosted the morale of Indian Army troops who were leading expeditions on the ‘third pole of the world’.

Also read: All you want to know about the ranks of Indian army

IAF operates from 60 bases across the country. Wikimedia commons
IAF operates from 60 bases across the country. Wikimedia Commons

IAF helicopters used to fly at the height of 16,000 feet, many times, the officers had to take oxygen directly from the pipe. They also had the job of taking injured troops back to base camp. However, it isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Finding the expedition parties in the never-ending desert of ice, then landing the helicopter on the lumps of snow were tasks that required unmistakable skill.

IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world. Wikimedia commons
IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world. Wikimedia Commons

How IAF operates in Siachen now

Indian Air Force has a far different set of procedures than that of the time of Operation Meghdoot. The operations are scientifically planned and executed meticulously.

  • IL-76s and An-32s supply stores to the men in Leh and Thoise from Chandigarh.
  • Thereafter, Mi-17 helicopters airdrop supplies to the lower level helipads at 17,500 feets.
  • Cheetahs then take over and ferry the supplies to helipads situated at 20,000 feet.