Jammu/Doda, March 1
On a sunny afternoon, 22-year-old Junaid Bhat is busy chopping wooden logs to make an almirah at a shop in Kishtwar district. Although a nephew of the most senior commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen in the region – Mohammad Amin, alias Jehangir Saroori, he calls on the latter to surrender.
It was seven months ago when the army organized carpentry training for Junaid to prevent him from wandering off like his uncle. He says, “Neither Hurriyat nor any government official supported us. The path of terrorism will only lead to death. The officials never harassed me for my relationship with Saroori.
Like him, the Army has helped a number of young people. Information from locals can be a game-changer for security forces in the fight against terrorism, so the military wants local youth to be brought into the mainstream. Providing self-employment opportunities is part of the strategy that has triggered the reduction in the number of young people picking up guns.
The army has also helped several women facing health problems. Medical camps have been organized regularly as government doctors are hardly available in remote areas. Recently, security officials trained nine women from the Thakrie block in Kishtwar in tailoring, enabling them to form a self-help group.
Along the Line of Control in Rajouri, regular training workshops are held for youth and women. Murtaza Malik, 23, from Darhal in Rajouri recently took a welding course and opened his workshop in the area. “The initiative of the Army is appreciable. Young people in remote areas must also benefit from such opportunities,” says Malik.
A Doda youth, who did not wish to be named, says his brother worked for LeT and turned himself in two years ago. “My family is stigmatized, so no one is offering my brother a job. The government should help these people to integrate into the mainstream,” he said. Seeking anonymity, an administration official from Kishtwar said government personnel lacked the resources to reach remote areas, so the administration often called on the military to help locals.
On Republic Day this year, Lal Din Gujjar, father of a terrorist, Nazir Gujjar, unfurled the Indian flag. “Who would have thought that the father of a wanted activist would unfurl the tricolor on Republic Day?” said a delighted Gujjar. —IANS
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