By Farooq Wani
I am Abdul Kabir, resident of Kashmir Valley since my childhood. I never had the opportunity to visit outside the state. When I was a child I saw my native place getting engulfed in militancy (guided by misguided nation of ‘freedom’). Slowly, it became a wildfire and saw my beautiful Valley getting burnt because of this. As a child I used to see this and wonder when will this ever stop.
I have seen my neighbors and my relatives suffering because of this turmoil. They were denied the opportunities that the rest of the India had. Youth of Kashmir could not get education and as a result were unable to participate in the fast paced development taking place across India. Deep down inside, every one of us wanted this turmoil to get over as early as possible. Everyone had a desire to see the beautiful valley at its flourishing best, like it was early. We found that the civil administration in the state was unable to carry out development activities due to problems posed by militants.
This was the background in which Army entered the valley. Every Kashmiri’s heart was filled with hope with the sight of olive greens and camouflaged uniforms. All of us knew that they were the angels who would liberate us from the clutches of the wretched ideological battle being waged by a few misguided men. Army with its initial tough stance earned itself some enemies among the local population, which I feel was necessary at the time considering that the situation was getting out of control and would have spiraled into a whirlpool which would eaten away all of Kashmir.
However, the Indian Army gradually came to grips with the situation by using iron list covered in velvet glove. They were tough with the miscreants yet considerate and compassionate with the common citizens. Many of my neighbors, under the influence of self declared ‘freedom mongerers’ were against the Army entering the valley. Gradually, Army managed to change the hearts and minds of the people of the valley. In the process they had to make a lot of sacrifices. Just as the brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers weeping for young lives being lost in the valley, we realized that the death of a soldier is also being mourned by his kiths and kins. Slowly, but surely, my brethren in the valley realized that violence leads to no solution. Maybe this is the realization that has played a big part in curbing down the violence in the valley.
Everyone in the Valley knew Army as saviors as they were the ones who had liberated the valley from the raiders in 1947, from the Pakistani marauders in 1965 and 1971. Our neighboring nation tried all possible tactics in their book to tear apart the Kashmiriyat which had been kept preserved for centuries by our ancestors.
Under these circumstances, Indian Army launched Project Indian Army Sadbhavana probably realizing the bad conditions in which my Kashmiri brethren were living. Kashmiris saw another face of the Army, thus again proving that they are nothing less that angels in olive green. They established basic minimum amenities which were required by common citizens. It I understand correctly, there are over 30 schools that are being run by the Army, providing quality education to the students of Valley. Besides education, Army is making efforts towards training in IT, Skill development, health, employment, awareness, and so on. These initiatives by the Army have gone a long way in changing the mindset of even the hardest opponents of the Army. For reasons of fear, people may not acknowledge it publicity but in the heart of their heart, they do understand the role of Army and thank the army men for being there.
In present times, I feel that the wonderful work by the Army has helped us realize what we are losing out when compared to the rest of our brothers in India. With this, I would like to thank my brothers in the Army for facing so much of hardship and still not given upon us.
*Farooq Wani, Kashmir senior journalist and a political commentator