“Awaam Aur Jawan Aman Hai Muqam”
The Indian Army is entrusted to ensure the territorial integrity of our Country protect it from external as well as internal threats. Indian Army operates in varied geographical and operational environments ranging from high altitudes of Siachen and Leh to the arid deserts of Rajasthan defending the borders. The success of Indian Army in combating terrorism and insurgency is being recognised and appreciated worldwide one of the reasons is the strong Awaam & Army connect that has been cemented over a period of time. Indian Army’s doctrine of winning Hearts and Minds of the people and its philosophy of "Iron fist with velvet glove" is being revered by governments worldwide. Be it the border areas of J&K, Leh, Arunachal Pradesh or terrorism/Insurgency affected Kashmir valley or the North Eastern States, the Indian Army is moving towards wining this battle of Hearts and Minds with its Humane face.
Indian Army has carved a niche for itself in this battle for ‘Wining Hearts and Minds’ of people through its Civic Action Programmes & Quick Impact Projects. Today it has made inroads into those domains where the local administration and government could not. Through its various outreach programme the Indian Army units are tirelessly working to constructively and simultaneously engage various sections of the population bringing a positive change in their mindset. Such projects are identified and selected jointly with the state administration and the people at the grass root levels.
This humane face of Indian Army is doing wonders in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir which has been through a violent and politically volatile period since last three decades. The image of Indian Army had under gone a dramatic change from that of serious "Gun Trotting Soldier" going behind terrorists to a "Local Hamdard" offering candies to children, Medicines to the old and a helping shoulder to the youth. It is heartening to see Army Soldiers carrying a sick man on their shoulders amidst heavy snow and inclement weather to the nearest hospital/helipad in border areas. Today an Indian Army Soldier is seen as an uncle next door by the children, an elder brother by the youth and a helping son by the elderly. Indian Army has delivered where the Awaam of Kashmir required it the most that is the time of natural crisis.
We must not forget the devastating earthquake of 2005 and floods of 2014 which totally paralysed the state machinery wherein the complete govt infrastructure was destroyed by the nature’s fury and the people were left at the almighty. It was again the Indian Army which rose up to the occasion and quickly deployed in various flood hit areas specifically to carry out relief missions and research ops which won hearts of Kashmiris in times of peril. Year of 2020 too during the COVID pandemic and nationwide lock-down the Indian Army had launched a multi-pronged campaign, to reach out to people in remote and rural areas of Kashmir with an aim to educate and assist them in times of need. It was a common sight for the Khairiyat patrols of the Army to distribute pamphlets, masks, sanitizers and also rations to the needy people in remote areas. Locals have expressed their gratitude towards the Army’s such contributions time and again.
The role of the people living in border areas in supporting our front-line troops deployed along line of control is also a testimony of the Strong Citizen-Soldier connect. Who can forget the Pakistan tribal invasion of 1947 or 1965 when it was the Kashmir who rose up against the Pakistan invaders and collaborated with the Indian Army. During the 1999 Kargil conflict it was the Kashmir who readily ferried essential supplies to our soldiers fighting on border to push back the Pakistani intruders. For the troops deployed in far flung areas along the line of control, the locals porter act as life support system. No matter how far flung the post is, it is the local porter who will always be willing to fetch supplies to our soldiers when needed the most. They have also assisted the soldiers in number of precious lines.
The Military propensity of wining hearts and minds has paid rich dividends in the form of perceptible change in the perspective of the locals of Kashmir. A non conductive environment for military to flourish and enormous goodwill for the ‘protectors of the realm’ are just some of the rewards that have been reaped from these endeavors. The ‘Soldiers & Citizen’ are two sides of the same coin. A citizen of today may be the soldier of tomorrow. Soldiers serving in remote areas bring the resemblance of governance through their civic action & quick impact projects. It is the people living in border areas which the Army will continue to count in case of a war or hostilities. This relationship between Awaam and Jawaan has been built over a solid foundation of mutual love, respect and brother hood, The soldier-citizen bond has always stood the test of time and will continue to get enmeshed further in times to come