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A Kashmiri old man blessing the soldier

The history of professional soldiering in India stretches all the way back to the Indus Valley civilization. Wars have existed since the times humans have learnt living as a society. Soldiers have always been an integral part of any society or kingdom and instrumental for their security. Therefore, even in the modern world, Armies are one of the pillars along with the Judiciary and Government that are crucial and inescapable for existence of a nation. Usually, Armies all across the globe have a well-defined charter of defending the sovereignty and saving the nation from external aggressors. It does not entail direct involvement with the civil population. However, in special scenarios where army is deployed to tackle internal conflicts, interaction with the civilians becomes a necessary part and is unavoidable. The tasks performed by the army are aimed at safeguarding the lives of citizens and any ignorance or loose drill may result in civilian casualties. The very nature of these tasks is such that at times it causes discomfort to the civilians, however it is never intended.

With beginning of armed insurgency and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990s, Army was called for to stabilize the deteriorating situation. Since then the state has come a long way and witnessed many ups and downs. The success of army can be measured by the fact that it has been able to bring down the number of active terrorists under 200 from 15000 in the 1990s. However, the process was not the easy one as it claimed sacrifices of many brave soldiers and civilians. The people of J and K have witnessed the loss of life of their loved ones and unprecedented levels of violence. They have suffered at the hands of terrorists and the counter terrorism operations by Armed forces have also caused them considerable amount of discomfort. As a result, the civilians wanted this violence to end and forces to move out of this state. The relationship between soldier and citizens had a shady start.

A kashmiri kid feeling happy with his nation's soldier. A bonding which can't be put in words.

However, the Army and Government has put in a lot of effort towards mitigating the problems of the civilians and extend all possible help to ease their lives. Under operation Sadbhavana, the Army carries out various activities to constructively engage the civil populace of J&K and undertake various civic aid activities in the fields of education, sports, adventure etc. These activities are aimed at uplifting the condition of the civil populace, provide them with equal opportunities, basic facilities and thus helps in strengthening the bond between civilians and soldiers. As a result the relationship between the Indian Soldier and the citizenry has improved a lot and the awaam refers to the soldiers as ‘Humsaya’.

As a matter of fact, the civilians find it more convenient to approach army camps for all sorts of their issues rather than going to civil administration. Army has been responsive and provided them with all sorts of help. This rich legacy of a robust soldier – civilian connect has transpired into a scenario today in which the Indian Army has provided yeomanry service to the citizenry on multifarious occasions. In addition to its role as a net security provider in areas that it is deployed, the Army also is actively involved in civic action efforts in order to make their lives better.

Gone are the days when civilians used to avoid any interaction with army and were disturbed by its presence. Now, be it the kids, ladies and old, they not only wave at the passing soldiers but also assist them and salute them. This connect between soldiers and citizens is vibrant and is further strengthened by the professional conduct and the empathetic response by the Armed forces. In long run this has also helped the forces, as the general populace understands the requirement and assist army in all its endevours whole heartedly. They are not moved by the commodities or facilities that army provides, but by the intention of helping them in every possible way. In a display of true soldierism, our army stands behind the citizens, hold their hands and walks them on the path of progress while staying away from limelight or media glare. Army has substantiated the saying ‘To win a heart one requires only correct intentions and the rest follows’.

Indian Army bonding with the future of Kashmir

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