Huge Response To Army Recruitment In Terror-hit Areas

7 June 2008
Times Internet Limited

New Delhi: Is Kashmir's most used militant ingress route and the border district perched beside the Line of Control with the most pronounced pro-separatist sentiments witnessing a change? Kupwara, facing Pakistan occupied Kashmir's (PoK) capital Muzzaffarabad, has been the scene of most number of encounters between security forces and militants, numbering 900 to 1,000, during the last decade with fatalities running into thousands. Its two thick forests - Rajawar and Kalroos - are areas known to harbour the maximum number of Pakistani mercenaries and where, according to a top Army Commander, even if you launch a full division of troops, they will get lost. But now, new winds of change seem to be blowing in the area and a pointer is the unprecedented response evoked by an Army recruitment drive currently on in some areas of the district. In the first of the series of recruitment drives launched in Kupwara and neighbouring areas in 20 years, the response has been overwhelming, an Army official said. 'For single vacancy in the force, we are getting 150 aspirants,' he said. The recruitment camps were held in Chhamkote, Chowkibal and Tregham areas and according to official figures, 1,643 people responded and 183 were screened for final selection. A far cry, from the height of militancy from 1990 to 2005, when security forces were unable to hold or even think of any recruitment camps. This trend is more pronounced in south of the Pirpanjal mountain ranges, with recruitments in border districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Udhampur, Jammu and Kathua districts overflowing. An Army official said, in Jammu region recruitment drives went on 'uninterrupted' even at the peak of militancy. He said regular recruitment camps were being held at Doda, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri, Naushera, Janglekote, Akhnoor, Damana, Surankot, Kishtwar, Ramban, Sambha, Mehndar and Reasi. 'At these places, average recruitment has been 400 to 500 youths per recruitment camp. Summing up, the official said, 'We see this as a major achievement in weaning the local youths away from the influence of terrorists.'