‘Peace Returning To Valley’

12 March 2009
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Despite the continued propaganda by separatists and anti-national elements against the Indian Army in Kashmir, accusing it for human rights violations, a record 15,000 applicants turned out for the recent Army recruitment drive in Kashmir. The youth of Kashmir have decided to defend their country from foreign mercenaries responsible for the bloodshed in the Valley in the last two decades, instead of being coerced to join terrorist outfits. Terrorism in the name of freedom has not only ruined Kashmir, but has brought the life of its peopleto a standstill. A survey conducted by government agencies in 2008 stated there were 1.40 lakh jobless youths registered with employment exchanges in Kashmir. With virtually no industries in the state, there are few private-sector jobs available. The total number of jobless youths is stated to be 3.5 lakh. The mindset of Kashmir people has not changed overnight. The Army has done a commendable job in the Valley by working for people night and day. The result is the goodwill it has generated. By wiping out terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir, it has brought peace to the homes of people. By undertaking development programmes under Operation Sadbhavana in the state, it has also brought about prosperity. This year’s turnout for enlisting in the Army can be seen as evidence of normalcy returning to the Valley. Indeed, there are all indications that militancy is losing ground among young men desperate for jobs and a future, and even the once-hated Army is being seen as a viable option. Hopefuls turned up days before the camp held from February 16 to 19 and spent nights at local mosques. The minimum qualification was matriculation and the upper-age limit was 21 years, but among applicants there were post-graduates as well as 25 year-olds. Underlining the irony of Kashmiris’ changing equations with the Army is the fact that the stadium, where the physicals were conducted wasn’t far from the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road, where thousands had converged last year as a response to the separatists’ call during the Amarnath land agitation. It is a sign peace returning to the state, demonstrating that not only has the government’s policy of winning hearts worked, so has the Army’s efforts, which has spent sleepless nights in fighting terrorism and bringing development to the state. The impact of its work can be found in the fact that 15,000 youths have chosen the path of upholding the safety of the Indian borders, instead of going across and returning to kill their own brethren.