First batch of Kashmiri youth joins armed forces
19 May 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR: The first batch of Kashmiri youth, recruited in the Home and Hearth Infantry Battalions raised to counter militancy, took oath to serve the country at a passing out parade in Pulwama district. In a colourful ceremony organised by Corps Battle School nearly 2,700 recruits, including some former militants, completed their training and participated in the passing out parade at Khrew in south Kashmir yesterday. Chief of Staff of 15 Corps Major General A K Chopra congratulated the recruits on their successful training. 'Where ever you go, must instill confidence in fellows around you and look after the 'awam’ (people). Be kind and helpful to serve the masses of Kashmir, as is the tradition of Indian Army,' he said Talking to reporters, the young recruits expressed their happiness on joining the country’s armed forces. 'We are happy to come out of that mess and are proud to become disciplined soldiers,' a former militant said, urging other ultras to shun the path of violence as it had only added to the misery of the people of the state. Home and Hearth Battalions are the brain child of Chief of Army Staff General G C Vij, providing employment to thousands of youth and also helping to effectively counter militant activities in Kashmir valley. Troops of home and hearth Territorial Army battalions will be deployed close to their homes in areas from where they were recruited, an army spokesman said. Their presence will provide an interface between regular army and the local populace and they will also strengthen the security grid, he said. Three of these battalions - 160, 161 and 162 Infantry Battalions raised from here will be deployed from Kupwara in north Kashmir to Banihal in Doda district in Jammu region. Alarmed at the response of the local youth to the Home and Hearth battalions, almost all militant outfits had threatened the people against joining the force.