Kashmir Indepth
Kashmir

Indian Army plans to engage with youth in Kashmir through music fests, sports programmes


New Delhi Jan 22 (KINS): The Indian Army plans to go all out in engaging with the youth in Kashmir, especially in the southern part of the Valley, and is doubling efforts on outreach programmes even as anti-terror operations continue, The Print reported. 
Sources in the defence and security establishment said that there are a total of 126 active militants in south Kashmir, the den of militant activities in the Union Territory, which comes under the operational command of the Army’s Victor Force.
The sources said that the main aim of the Army at present is to ensure that militant recruitment, which has been high in 2020, does not go up.
The Victor Force is currently headed by Maj. Gen. Rashim Bali who took over in September last year. Since then a total of 35 militants were killed, while 15 were arrested and six surrendered.
The sources also said that another focus is to allow those who have picked up arms to surrender and join the mainstream.
The Print had in October 2020 reported that the government is working on a surrender and rehabilitation policy for Kashmiri youth who have joined militant groups.
General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps, Lt Gen. B.S. Raju had underlined that the Army is working more on ensuring surrender rather than going for straight killings.
Focus on offering surrender was initiated by former Corps Commander Lt Gen K.J.S. Dhillon and carried forward by Lt Gen. Raju.
A source involved in the anti-militancy operations in south Kashmir said: “We have increased our outreach programmes. There is regular interaction with the youth now which includes music festivals, sports tournaments and even visits to Army establishments.”
Asked what will be the course of action for 2021, the source said, “We are going to increase outreach programmes by being in regular touch with the youth. Our first focus is to ensure surrender. However, when the militants open fire, there is no other way than to fire back”.
The source added that strict measures have been put in place to ensure that disproportionate force is not used during operations.
A total of 225 militants have been killed in 2020, Jammu and Kashmir Police DGP Dilbag Singh had said on 31 December. (KINS)

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