The force of humanity and help
Despite facing internal as well as external challenges, the Army in North Kashmir has changed the face of their operations with more engagement with the locals. And the public response and participation speaks loudly of their success.
IN the later part of 1947, when India was still emerging from the tumultuous phase of the
Partition, Pakistan put its notorious eye on Kashmir and tried to wrest it from India. Pakistan tribals, at the behest of their government, intruded into the Kashmir territory to start a full-fledged war against the then Hindu Dogra ruler. By mid October 1947,
Jammu & Kashmir State Forces were outnumbered by Pakistan tribals and the fall of the State was imminent. At the request of the then Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, the Indian Army landed in Srinagar on October 26, 1947. And, without any preparations, it started to guard the important junctions and pushed the Pakistan Army – that had entered in the guise of tribals – out of the State. Later, seeing the importance of securing Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian Army was stationed here to keep Pakistan at bay. Baramulla and Kupwara, being the twin border districts of North Kashmir, are guarded by the Army at crucial points, to keep a vigil on the intrusion of Pakistani militants.
The Army’s shield
In 2019, Baramulla district was declared the first militancy-free district of Jammu and Kashmir after hundreds of kinetic operations. The movement of the militants was confined to specific areas and dealt with ruthlessly by the combined forces of the Army, the J&K Police and the CRPF. With modernisation in the Army, the forces started public outreach to earn goodwill among the locals. Well, the notion about the Army has changed and it
is being perceived as an institution of development. The Army has started various Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to connect with the locals here in Baramulla. From the education sector to development; from imparting skills and health emergency – the Indian Army is in the forefront in North Kashmir to revamp public outreach.
Infrastructural development and CBMs An officer stationed in Baramulla apprises us about
the various initiatives the Army has taken in the last couple of years. He says their working approach has changed and they hear out the locals rather than thrust their own proposals. “In our initiatives, we appoint locals to handle affairs and thus manage things under their supervision”, he informs.
Outlining the blueprint of the initiatives the
Army has carried out in North Kashmir, the officer says:
“We have built bridges for a hassle-free movement of the Border inhabitants. The locals
in Ghagar area of Boniyar Baramulla faced hardships in crossing a large canal. The Army
swung into action and constructed a 20 m long bridge with assistance from the locals”.
The ‘Daggar Parivar School’ foundation has been laid out for the education of specially- abled children of North Kashmir. The school boasts many activities, therapies and curriculum keeping in mind the type and degree of disability of the students. The officer apprises that following the political change in 2019, “we immediately started public
outreach and now, continuously deliberate with the local heads to keep an eye on vested elements. We cooperate with the people fully and have started procedures to maintain normalcy in consultation with the youth. Although, there are some instances
where we need to keep an eye on anti-national elements and keep them out of reach from the public to contain peace”.
Engaging the youth
The youth form the backbone of any state. Having an insurgent past wherein the youth were at the forefront of the attack on the sovereignty of India in Kashmir, the Army has started initiatives with the youth in Baramulla and Kupwara to maintain deliberations and to avoid any subversive activity in these districts.
The officer talks fondly of ‘Jashan-e-Baramulla’, a music and cultural fest wherein local artists participate to promote the talent of Kashmir. The official says that “the musical fest provides an ideal platform for the local artists, singers and musicians to exhibit their talent and we have started to organise it every year now. The participation was earlier confined but now it’s an open event where people from all walks of life can participate to witness the local talent. We invite Bollywood celebrities to make the
event more attractive and enthralling”.
Another such event organised in the Kupwara
district is ‘Bangus festival’ in the Bangus valley,
famous for trekking, camping and recreational activities. Pertinently, the Bangus valley is
emerging as a prime tourist spot and the LG administration has taken various measures to
make the destination easily accessible to visitors.
The officer also informs that since skills are driving the market today, the Army has taken an initiative to establish Skill Development Centre in Baramulla under the ‘Khwaab-e-
Tabeer’ Project to empower girls, mostly from far-flung areas, and to connect them with the mainstream. The project is running presently at Boniyar town and has inculcated various skills in the girls here so that they are able to earn their own livelihood. It began with some 300 girls who were inducted and trained for six months. Later, a number of them started their own ventures and explored employment in varied sectors.
‘Super 30 coaching’ under the name PetroNet
Kashmir has been in place more than a decade.
The Indian Army is providing space and residential facilities to the students who pursue
their coaching for various competitive exams like NEET, JEE and NDA. The official says that so far, more than a 1000 students have excelled from the coaching centres and pursued higher technical education in various top notch institutions of the country. “The coaching is free from any dues and we provide all the basic facilities to these students,” he adds.
In a novel event, says the official, the Army
recently organised ‘Weapon Displaying Exhibition’ for the youth in Baramulla to make them aware of the sacrifices of the forces and uplift their morale so that they participate in
the recruitment process to eventually safeguard the nation.Despite facing challenges both internally and externally, the Army in North Kashmir has changed the face of their operations with more engagement with the locals so as to make the force pro-people.
Public participation in these events represents the success of these operations.