Thousands Defy Militant Threats
8 February 2006
The Indian Express
Langate: Braving militant threats and the biting cold, thousands of Kashmiri youths turned up today at the first Army recruitment at Langate after the Hizbul Mujahideen warned them not to join the force. Candidates from different parts of North Kashmir eagerly awaited for their turn to appear in the screening test. 'I am unemployed and have a large family. This is a golden opportunity to get a job,' said Pervaz Ahmad Bhat, who came all the way from Dachgam Village of Bandipore. 'I am aware of the militants' threats against joining the Army; I'm still ready to join,' he added. Like Pervaz, most who showed up here were aware of the threats. 'If death is in my fate, nobody can stop it,' said Abdul Qayoom Malik, a resident of Varnov Lolab. 'I have decided to join the Army; death is better than sitting idle at home.' Recently, in an advertisement published in some prominent Valley dailies, the Hizbul militants warned Kashmiri youths against joining Army, Central Reserve Police Force and the Indian Reserve Police Force. Those defying the 'order' would be killed or their families exiled from Kashmir or their properties sealed, it added. The outfit had also termed Army recruitment a conspiracy against the 'freedom struggle' in Kashmir. Abdul Majid Bhat, a resident of militant-infested Kakroosa Village in Kupwara, said that his family members initially had reservations about his appearing in the screening test. 'It took me two weeks to convince my family members. I am in need of a job. And, I will use my skills to get a job in the Army,' he said. Another youth, Ghulam Nabi Shah, traveled 130 km from Akal Village, in Kangan, to appear in the test. 'My family has 11 members, and no one is employed. I am ready to put my own life at risk for a better life for my family,' said Shah while waiting for the final medical test. 'I am praying to the Almighty so that my name appears on final list.' The participation of the Kashmiri youths has encouraged the Army officers, who see in it indication of normalcy. 'On the first day of the drive, over 10,000 youths were waiting for screening. And today, some 6,000 are waiting to appear in various tests,' says Col D K Nanda, presiding officer of the recruitment drive. 'We screened 2,000 youths in two days. And, in the next two days, over 2,500 youths will be screened for 90 posts.' Govt to provide insurance cover to school children JAMMU: Soon every school children in Jammu and Kashmir will be brought under insurance cover as the state government has decided to provide insurance cover to about 13 lakh children. Commissioner- Secretary, Education, Manzoor Bhat, said the scheme would be available to government school children from April 1. 'The decision was taken keeping in mind militancy-related incidents and also natural calamities,' said sources. Dwivedi said that the decision was taken to ensure that if any eventuality happens with a child during the course of coming to school or going back, adequate compensation is paid to the family. 'The insurance will cover all students enrolled in school register. If any mishap happens, respective schools will inform the Chief Education Officer, who will then inform the Directorate for the compensation. The amount will be paid by the Directorate,' he said.