The prospects of peace are ever dwindling and ever elusive. It is only in the last 4-5 years that we have seen a renewed focus on Kashmir. It is only in the last 4-5 years that we have seen adequate Government interest and involvement in improving the fate of Kashmir.
Several stalled projects in limbo for decades were re-started and completed. Rail and road connectivity has been strengthened like never before and so have power and digital connectivity. This has done a world of good to the Kashmiri youth who are witnessing the changes on the
IN A recent move, the Army has appealed to mothers in Kashmir to help the force bring back their sons who have joined militancy, assuring them of safety and security. General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen K J S Dhillon also appealed to the parents to stop their children from joining militant ranks. “From the core of my heart, I personally request all the mothers in Kashmir to please stop your children from joining militancy or terrorism and bring back those who have gone astray. I guarantee you their safety, security and 100 per cent absorption in the mainstream,” he said. The Army officer was addressing a passing out parade of the newly-recruited cadets at Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment at Rangreth on the outskirts of Srinagar. The Corps Commander said life was God’s most beautiful gift and was meant to be lived happily with the family. “Please get them back into the mainstream.
This one life is the most beautiful gift from God, live it well with your family and remain happy,” he said. A total of 152 cadets, including 26 from Kashmir Valley, were recruited into the JAKLI regiment after completing six months of rigorous training. This is not the first time the Army has tried to encourage the return of the Kashmiri youth gone astray back to the mainstream. Earlier too on various occasions, the Government of India and the forces have tried to influence and inspire the youth to think constructively and participate in the democratic processes of society. They have been extended all kinds of help including jobs and skill enhancement so that they have a better and secured life like their counterparts in other States. Unfortunately, the efforts have not paid off too well due to various reasons. One is the attitude and approach of the Kashmiri youth who have been brainwashed into jihad so well that they cannot come out of the rut easily. They have been instilled with a sense of valour and piousness in their action which draws them to the terror groups.
The heinous crimes against humanity are celebrated and eulogised as commands of God which will be rewarded in heaven. To thwart the gripping influence of the jihadis on the Kashmiri psyche, we need to build up and propagate a much stronger counter-narrative, which has not happened. The counter-narrative has to be backed by visible action on the ground, which too has unfortunately not happened that often. The Kashmiri youth is disillusioned and desperate, which makes it easy to drag them into the trap of divisive action. They need jobs, they need creative outlets, they need businesses and skills and education and better privileges of life. Unless the Kashmiri youth is made to feel at home here, they will seek their home somewhere else. This is what has happened through most of the last 70 years, which the men across the border have taken advantage of.
Most Governments never took on the issues head-on and development always played the second fiddle to high rhetoric. Most of the projects in Kashmir initiated three decades back are still hanging fire due to the lack of political will and initiatives. Shifting goalposts, peace offers hedged around with riders, broken promises, misplaced priorities, corruption, political mudslinging, Army highhandedness, and lack of a clear roadmap have often marred the possibilities Kashmir offered. The prospects of peace are ever dwindling and ever elusive. It is only in the last 4-5 years that we have seen a renewed focus on Kashmir. It is only in the last 4-5 years that we have seen adequate Government interest and involvement in improving the fate of Kashmir. Several stalled projects in limbo for decades were re-started and completed. Rail and road connectivity has been strengthened like never before and so have power and digital connectivity.
This has done a world of good to the Kashmiri youth who are witnessing the changes on the ground. They are finding more opportunities to earn and have a better life and greater exposure to better facilities of education and healthcare which are making them more aligned with India. They are coming to realise that their interests and India’s interests and objectives are not working at cross purposes. They are realising that joining militancy is akin to bringing ruin to themselves and their families. They are realising that violence has yielded nothing in the last four decades. They have realised that joining the mainstream is more rewarding and a recipe for greater happiness and prosperity that the other life cannot provide. India must take advantage of these winds of change. Kashmir needs more representation. They need more presence in mainland India— in different spheres of professional and creative life. To integrate them more and more completely is the best antidote against terrorism.
Pak-based terror groups need new recruits. The best way is to scuttle the supply chain by hyper-constructive initiatives, which is the only counter-productive move that can disturb the terror plans. This is something they cannot do. Positive growth and economic security are the greatest ways to reconstruct a broken discourse. There is no greater power than empowering people – through education and economic security. The Army has a great role to play in this because the image of the Army as a draconian entity has to be erased from the psyche of the people. For various reasons, the Army is not trusted and taken to kindly in the Valley. This rift is also a reason given by the terror groups to the youths to take up guns. The Army General’s words must come as a message of hope for the Kashmiri youth and their families. By the way, the Army has to enhance communication and dialogue with the common Kashmiri and win them over to their side more completely by sharing in their efforts and achievements. This is a slow process but perhaps the only process that can change the perception and scenario in the Valley.