Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said the trend of more youths joining army will achieve nothing except increased footprints of the security forces in the state.
Addressing a convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) here, Mehbooba reacted to reports of more young people joining militant ranks.
“The increase in the number of youths picking up the gun will increase the presence of Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the police.
“More the situation improves, the more we can ask the Army, the CRPF and the police to reduce their footprints (in Kashmir)”, the Chief Minister said.
Condemning the recent grenade attacks by militants in the Valley, she said: “Despite ceasefire, there are grenade attacks. They do not see that civilians are getting killed, they do not see that Army or CRPF jawans have come from far flung areas for their bread and butter. What will this achieve?
“There have been thousands of grenade attacks till now, thousands have picked up guns and become militants, but what has been achieved?” she asked.
She said through peaceful means the People’s Democratic Party had been able to persuade the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkote roads.
“If the situation improves, I promise you that we will open more such routes.”
Mehbooba made a fervent appeal to Kashmiri separatists to come forward for talks and save the state from further bloodshed and reminded them that the announcement of ceasefire by the Indian government was a step that cannot be expected always.
She said the problem can only be resolved thorough dialogue.
“This time there is an offer of dialogue from the Centre. I request all stakeholders to come forward to save Kashmir.”
Mehbooba said it was for the separatists to decide whether the youths of Kashmir should come out of the culture of stones and guns.
She also appealed to New Delhi and Islamabad to start the dialogue process in order to improve the situation since Jammu and Kashmir bears the brunt of strained relations between the two countries. (IANS)
When Brazilian native Kelly Oliveira signed up for the U.S. Army through a program that offered her citizenship for her service, she thought she had it made.
But it took two years for the army to work through the added background checks. During that time she struggled to remain legal.
Oliveira finally made it through the process and was sworn in as a citizen last week.
She took the oath on a day designated to honor the U.S. flag, a group of 28 people from 18 countries became American citizens at the historic house where the flag that inspired the national anthem was made.
“I learned to love this country that I adopted as my own. … I’ve always [thought] of myself as an American by heart,” she said.
But it took 13 years to make it official. On a day designated to honor the U.S. flag, a group of 28 people, including Oliveira, from 18 countries became American citizens at the historic house where the flag that inspired the national anthem was made.
“It’s been a long journey. … Of course there were moments that I was thinking ‘Should I continue waiting?’” she said.
Oliveira’s wait was due to changes in a military program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI reported on by VOAlast December. It was launched in 2009 to bring immigrants with medical or language skills into the armed services.
She enlisted in the Army in March 2016 under MAVNI, which promised her citizenship in exchange for service.
Enlisting for status
Oliveira had tried other ways to stay legal. But nothing worked.
“I went to school and I had my OPT, and I got a teaching position job as a preschool teacher,” Oliveira said.
The OPT or Optional Practical Training allows international students with an F-1 visa to work in the U.S. for up to one year in a field related to their studies. She tried to get a work visa through the schools where she was employed at the time.
“Unfortunately the school where I was working at; they could not [sponsor] me,” she said.
That’s when she entered the MAVNI program. But on June 2016, the program was shut down, which affected Oliveira’s enlistment.
The U.S. government retroactively required background checks on anyone who had enlisted in the military through the MAVNI program, including anyone who was currently serving or waiting to be shipped to basic training.
For Oliveira that meant a two-year wait. She went to training drills and struggled to stay legal.
Those who witnessed her journey said it was tough. “I don’t think I’d be able to do it because it’s, I mean, it’s been a, it’s been a long journey. It’s been a struggle and it’s, it’s been like a nightmare,” Lauren Schroeder, a D.C. native who has been friends with Oliveira for many years, told VOA.
“I mean the down was the fact that it took so long. And I guess the up is that she was able to join the military and get a citizenship that way. So finally, it happened,” Schroeder said.
Embarking on a ‘new journey’
Margaret Stock, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who created the MAVNI program, told VOA she is not surprised by Oliveira’s successful story.
“That’s what’s supposed to happen. They’re eligible for citizenship and they’re supposed to be able to get it quickly,” Stock said.
But the retired Army lieutenant colonel said, even though there are stories like Oliveira’s, lots of recruits are still falling out of status due to the additional checks.
“So people are timing out and they can’t ship out to basic training until the [U.S. government] completes all these background checks,” she said.
In a previous interview with VOA, Stock said everyone who wants to serve in the military has to go through background checks but the government was already doing a lot more background checking on the MAVNIs.
“They are the most checked group of people that entered the U.S. military,” Stock said adding this is an investigation normally done on someone getting top-secret clearance with the U.S. government.
On Flag Day, Oliveira signed the papers. She checked in with immigration officials. Then the ceremony started.