Anuj Veer Singh
The words above could not have been more precise in defining the relation the Indian Army has shared over the years with the Awaam of Jammu and Kashmir. The relationship has stood the test of time beginning all the way back in the year 1947-48 when the Indian Army was deployed for the first time in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and continues till date. Over the decades this relationship has evolved through the toughest of spells and situations which have been shared by the Indian Army and Awaam and it has emerged stronger and grown resilient with time. Kashmiriyat and Indian Army Kashmiriyat is believed to be an expression of solidarity, resilience and patriotism. It is believed to embody a spirit of harmony and a determination of survival of the people and their heritage. One can instantly draw parallels between the concept of Kashmiriyat and the ethos of the Indian Army. The elementary values and beliefs being the same, it provided and proved to be the basic foundation on which the relationship between the Awaam and the men in uniform has flourished over the years.
Role of Operation ‘Sadbhavana’
Being a Humsaya means being there for someone and to provide support during the good as well as during tough times. The Indian Army over the years has played the role of a Humsaya for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. One of the major programs undertaken in this regard by the Indian Army is Operation ‘Sadbhavana’ It is a unique humane initiative undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir to address aspirations of people affected by terrorism. The Indian Army as part of the overall Counter Terrorism strategy is using its footprint to wrest the initiative from the terrorists, who are trying to alienate the Awaam of Kashmir from the national fabric, and re-integrate them with mainstream India thereby blunting the proxy war abetted by Pakistan.
The focus of Operation ‘Sadbhavana’ is to improve the overall core social indices of Education, Healthcare, Women and Youth Empowerment with simultaneous focus on capacity building through implementation of community or infrastructure development projects. Operation ‘Sadbhavana’ is perhaps, the only ‘Winning of Hearts and Minds” initiative in the world wherein, an Army embroiled in conduct of intense Counter Terrorism operations is also actively assisting civil administration to bring back normalcy. The unique initiative stands as astounding example of commitment and dedication of the uniformed community towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Development and Employment Generation
The presence of army in any area in India has been a catalyst in its development. This holds true for Jammu and Kashmir more than any other region. The presence of the army in remote areas along the LC and LAC promotes the improvement of infrastructure and facilities. The Valley has again become a destination for tourists mainly because of the long haul of counter-insurgency or terrorism operations being conducted by the Army. If Ladakh today is a popular tourist destination, then a fair share of credit for the same goes to Indian Army and the relentless infrastructure development work carried out by it in the region.
The Army by its sheer numbers in the UT generates employment and helps the economy. The Army for its sustenance requires daily necessities which are catered for by the local suppliers. Hiring of porters and ponies for sustenance of troops deployed in inaccessible areas is a major source of employment and earnings for the locals. Another major employer of locals is the Border Roads Organization.
The roads and trucks constructed for military use improves connectivity for the locals and the maintenance of the same provides them ready employment. By providing the Awaam with numerous opportunities for their growth and development the Indian Army is fulfilling the role of being their Humsaya in yet another way. The local populace also remains indebted to the Army for improving their lives.
Aid to Civil Authority & Humanitarian Assistance
The history of this place is replete with numerous examples ranging from full- fledged aid to civil authority relief operations to include the earthquake rescue ops in 2005 to Operation Megh Rahat in 2014 wherein the troops of Indian Army have gone beyond the call of duty and have provided humanitarian assistance to the Awaam during the critical times thereby saving thousands of lives. These acts combined with the day to day assistance being provided in various forms by the men in uniform to the local populace have strengthened the bond between Army and the Awaam.
The Indian Army with its presence in the area for over so many decades has also integrated itself with the culture, values and sentiments of the Awaam. The bond shared between the troops from various corners of the nation as part of Indian Army and the Awaam of Jammu and Kashmir is a true reflection of the cultural harmony and cordial relationship built on mutual respect for each other. By its deeds and by virtue of its honest and genuine efforts, the Indian Army has truly cemented its place in the hearts of the Awaam as their Humsayas.