J&K Youths Brave Threats, Weather For Army Jobs19 February 2011
Times of India
Jammu: Ignoring militants' warning against joining the Army and bucking conventional wisdom that Kashmiris hate the men in olive, more than 9,000 jobless youths thronged a recruitment rally at Manasbal Sainik School in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday. Giving out the number of aspirants, official sources said the enthusiastic youths assembled at the school since morning, some reaching the venue as early as 5 am, braving rain and sleet, with the hope of donning the uniform. A defence spokesman said a bigger response was expected on Sunday, the last day of the recruitment rally. The drive is being held to induct soldiers from Srinagar and Anantnag districts. Similar rallies will be held for other districts of the Valley in the coming days, said an Army officer. This comes a month after a police recruitment drive in Srinagar city, where nearly 3,000 youths tried their luck. This is not the first time that Kashmiri youths have responded to the Army's recruitment drive. More than 3,000 men filed in for a four-day recruitment rally near Rangreth in Srinagar on May 25, 2007. A recruitment drive in 2009 too witnessed a huge response, with over 8,000 men turning up, again at Rangreth. At the Manasbal Sainik School, men in the 19-25 year age group jostled with one other to show their capabilities. Gulzar Ahmad Dar (22), an aspirant from Manigam, said, 'Since there are no jobs with the state government, I tried my luck with the Army but unfortunately my height failed me.' Armed with his certificates, Altaf Ahmad Hakim of Bambloora village said, 'I have given up hope that our chief minister Omar Abdullah, whom we voted for, will provide jobs to Ganderbal youths. Even though I was not selected in this rally, I am hopeful that next time I will get the chance to join the Army.' Ishfaq, a graduate from Anantnag, said: 'Joining the Army has been a passion for me. There is a lot of unemployment here and the Army can give me the chance to earn a decent living.' A youth from Thuru village in Ganderbal was optimistic about his chances. 'I perhaps met the criteria and am hopeful of being selected,' he said refusing to reveal his name. Several militant outfits, including Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, have in the past asked youths from Kashmir to stay away from such rallies and also threatened to kill family members of those who join the Army or other paramilitary forces. The enthusiasm of the locals to look for a career in the Army is a far cry from when Kashmiris shied away from joining the security forces.