Art Of Peace - Army's humane initiave in Kashmir

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by ejazr, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    A heart warming article about our Army in Kashmir. Do read the entire article in the link below.

    Art Of Peace

    Kashmiris warm up to a humane army initiative. Everyone’s talking, listening: it can only be for the better.
    Chander Suta Dogra

    • Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain is the first Muslim general to commandeer 15 Corps
    • Soon after taking over in Dec 2010, he declared 2011 to be the `Year of the Kashmiri Awam’
    • The general began Awami Sunwais all across to assess and address people’s grievances
    • He has also organised seminars where college students, youth and citizens were invited
    • This summer, the army held 300 matches between 193 teams of the first Kashmir Premier League T20 tournament.

    At last, the army seems to be getting something right in Kashmir. After two decades of using the jackboot, brutal excesses and an indifferent attitude towards the collective anger of the Kashmiris against the men in uniform, a general has taken it upon himself to sensitise his force to the Kashmiris and assure the latter in the process that the army can be their friend, not foe. That his is a Muslim name is a relevant fact, but only just. With militancy ebbing and even separatists favouring peaceful mass agitations over violence, the army too has altered the whole tone and tenor of its engagement with Kashmiris, using an unexpected new weapon in its arsenal: a respectful humanism. Ergo ‘Ji Janaab’, a doctrine designed to project a more friendly face of the armed forces. It’s at play everywhere: at the roadside security barrier, in the conduct of a speeding army convoy, indeed in all areas of the army’s interface with civilians.

    It was in December 2010 that Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, an old Kashmir hand, took charge of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps which controls all military operations in the Valley. Almost immediately, he declared 2011 to be the ‘Year of the Kashmiri Awam (People)’ during which the army would devote itself to the welfare of the people and be more humane. The first indication of getting his priorities right lay in Hasnain’s change of the army slogan: from ‘Jawan aur awam, aman hai muqam (for the jawan and the people, peace is the goal)’ to one that put ‘awam’ before ‘jawan’ to become ‘Awam aur jawan, aman hai muqam’.

    Many initially felt the change to be just cosmetic. It would take more than a play of words for the Kashmiris to view the army differently, and infinitely much more to learn to trust it. But the army had made its first sensible move in appointing a Muslim general after 20 years, Lt Gen M.A. Zaki being the last to hold office in the 1990s. The Muslim credentials go way beyond cynical tokenism; it offered a shared cultural vocabulary. To be fair, in less dire times, a non-Muslim might have managed equally well but in an atmosphere of accumulated fear and mistrust, it had a disarming potential. What worked in the end was not the tag but the man—Hasnain’s genuine efforts struck a chord with Kashmiris and made them willing to give the man in uniform a chance after having held him in contempt for years.

    He was meticulous in putting the doctrine into action: initiation into ‘Ji Janaab’ begins at the 15 Corps Battle School at Khrew itself, where army units coming into Kashmir are administered basic familiarisation capsules. Hasnain makes it a point to interact with jawans of each incoming unit and stress on the importance of being courteous with locals. Some of the instructions are simple but fundamental:

    Troops must adopt an ‘aap over tum’ policy.
    If you are ordering people to get down from a vehicle for a security check, or searching their houses for terrorists, the form of address is a polite ‘janaab’ or ‘begum’ or ‘mohtarma’ and not unprintable abuses.
    Army drivers must avoid racing over puddles to avoid splashing water on pedestrians.

    The change is evident. As Sheikh Javed, a shopkeeper in Srinagar, observed, “They don’t shout at us any more. We don’t fear the army now.” However, Hasnain’s foremost strategy has been to initiate a dialogue with the people. In the series of ‘awami sunwais’ he has held across the Valley, Hasnain has been meeting ordinary Kashmiris in some of the most volatile districts of Kashmir: Bandipore, old Baramulla town, Handwara, Shopian, Sopore and Gurez. Attended by officers of the civil administration, these have become a forum for ordinary Kashmiris to voice their grievances, and have them attended to forthwith, sometimes at the sunwai itself. So, when he visited Handwara tehsil in north Kashmir in April, one complaint was about the local army unit closing a road leading to Rajwar area at night for security reasons. The road services some 200 villages. Hasnain ordered that the barrier be lifted immediately


    Grudging approval is flowing even from the army’s most strident critics: the local media. Hasnain is on first-name terms with most journalists, who’re appreciating the unprecedented access to information they are now getting. “I believe the army is finally trying to understand the problem,” says Javed Iqbal, a prominent Kashmiri political commentator. “It helps in shaping their response, though by itself it can never be a solution for a problem which is political.”
    Not everyone is happy with the army’s new initiatives. Among the first to oppose them were the separatists who objected to the army teaching Kashmiri to its men. Though it was a move meant to connect better with people, after the separatist camp accused the army of cultural aggression, it is being downplayed. Hasnain’s proactive methods—however effective—have also not gone down well with the civil administration which is seeking to put curbs on him. As Prof Gul Ahmed points out, “Since all this is coming at a time when the civil administration is disconnected from the people, it has been taken note of.”
    If all this means that the army is becoming a friend of the Kashmiri, it still has a long way to go. But a beginning has been made and it’s showing results. “We have no heroes to look up to in Kashmir today,” says Ajaz Ahmed, a young college lecturer from downtown Srinagar. “Not Omar Abdullah, nor the separatists. Not even the militants. We would like the army to truly change its colours and become the heroes we do not have.” In the treacherous, strife-ridden turf that is Kashmiri politics, where even positive initiatives like Hasnain’s can run into a wall, people’s expectations, hopefully, will reflect in more affirmative action.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2011
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  3. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

    Apr 21, 2009
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    The role of the army is not to "become a friend of the Kashmiris", but to defend the country's sovereignty. While it is wonderful that Col Hasnain seems to be getting along quite well with the locals, if this does nothing to bring down the militancy in the Valley, his efforts will be futile. The army's security procedures exist for a reason, and changing them for the convenience of the locals will inevitably also give terrorists an opportunity to cause havoc.

    If the locals do not want the army to be in Kashmir, they should stop siding with the separatists/terrorists against the Indian state, and their quality of life will automatically improve. They cannot have their cake and eat it too.
  4. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

    Mar 6, 2010
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    What you say is true for the early phases of the militancy, but now the militancy is slowly dieing and it makes good sense to start winning few hearts and minds of the locals. Remember the Greek maxim, after the war is over, make alliance.

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