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The Indian army has been deployed in the valley for more than three decades now, and it has played a multi faced role in bringing stability in the valley not just by conducting counter terrorism operations, but also by upbringing the life of a Kashmiri by projects like Op Sadbhavana which aimed at winning heart and minds of the local Awam of Kashmir. The present generation of Kashmir has grown up living next to a military camp and has been part of the change that the valley has witnessed in the last decade. With near-perfect professional conduct and showing respect to the local population, the Indian army has not only become the pride of Kashmir but also an epitome of true soldiering throughout the world.

The Indian army has won the hearts and minds of people by displaying its own ethos and even showing a willingness to open itself up to public scrutiny while protecting the operational rights provided by Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The Indian army has worked according to the will of Kashmiris and not against them. The contribution of the Indian army in eliminating terrorism from its roots in Kashmir needs no proof. The Indian army is at the forefront of transforming the next generation of Kashmir by indulging them in programs like ‘Sahi Rasta’ by opening Goodwill Schools, providing job opportunities, skill development of the youth giving opportunities in the field of sports, giving opportunities to join the regular and territorial army, etc.

Over a period of three decades, the Indian army has evolved its tactics of counter-terrorism operations by understanding the local dynamics. The army has become proud by going through the pain and bloodshed of over three decades. The Kashmir and army connection are not just limited to counter-terrorism operations, but it dates back to 1947 when Kashmir was first defended by the gallant soldiers of the Indian Army from the intruders from Pakistan backed by the regulars of the Pakistani army. Since then, Kashmir was part of all the wars and conflicts between the two nations.

The people of Kashmir have been the unfortunate victim of a proxy war by Pakistan and the Indian army takes pride in defending this beautiful valley and its people from falling into the hands of separatists. The army has always served as an example of national integration, secularism, and sacrifice. Its people-centric initiatives in the valley have been a resounding success. Moreover, since the rank and file of the army come from all over the country and belongs to every caste, community, and walk of life, it is people friendly army and its humane approach has created an exceptionally strong bond between people of Kashmir and the army.

Today, apart from conducting successful counter-terrorism operations, the army is running 27 Goodwill schools in remote locations and terrorism-infected areas and providing quality education at affordable cost. Other than this, the army is also running over 80 centers for community development, skill development, women empowerment, and youth guidance. Annually over 100 awareness tours are conducted by the army outside Kashmir to spread awareness and a sense of national integration among the youth of Kashmir. The army is also conducting various medical and veterinary camps in remote locations to provide help to the poor strata of Kashmir. Army has also taken initiatives to provide quality education and help the local population receive education from the premier institutes in various academic fields of India.

The army has proved its worth by controlling critical situations like the death of Burhan Wani in 2016, the abrogation of articles 370 and 35A, the conduct of the annual Amarnath Yatra, the delimitation of Kashmir, etc which could lead to major unrest in the valley. Army has also been at the forefront with other agencies in dealing with pandemics like COVID-19 by conducting various medical camps. It has also taken a keen interest in conducting annual cultural and tourism events in the valley to showcase the pristine beauty and preserved culture of Kashmir on the world stage. The unique initiatives stand as a dazzling example of the commitment and dedication of the uniformed community towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir and successfully blunted

sponsored anti-India propaganda.

The terrorism in the valley has evolved over the years from mass armed insurrection to hardcore terrorism to more subtle yet dangerous threats to public order to the latest trend of hybrid terrorism targeting the non-locals and pro-Indian sentiments in the valley and army are fighting these invisible and faceless enemies on the daily basis while keeping the tenets of human rights uppermost in the minds. The army has a policy of ‘zero tolerance for human rights violation’ and we are very vocal about it in the media as well as in conduct. The doctrine of IRON FIST IN VELVET GLOVE is coined by the Indian army in the valley and has shown its results in successful operations to bring normalcy to the valley.

The conduct of the army is apolitical and aimed at upholding the fundamental rights of the local population at all costs in the true spirit of the defender of the Indian constitution. The army has continuously changed its Rules of Engagement (RoE) in accordance with the COAS Ten Commandments while conducting operations in the valley. All the incoming personnel undergoes rigorous Pre Induction Training (PIT) which includes training on Human Rights, the conduct of counter-terrorism operations, and conduct with various other agencies and the local population of the valley. It is formalized training that covers the history of the valley as well as the religious sentiments of the Kashmiris.

The army has been transparent in operations with the use of local police and use of drones to avoid any questions in the conduct at later stages. At the same time, the army has its own policies under Army Act to deal with human rights violations (if any). At times there are fake and false allegations of human rights violations against the Army by inimical elements to tarnish the image of a soldier in the valley. To conclude, the display of professional soldiering of the Indian army over the last three decades acts as the pillar on which we can stand and proudly say that peace is definitely on the horizon and a major credit for this goes to The Pride of Kashmir: INDIAN ARMY.

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