Kashmir Village Keeps Militancy Away, Embraces Army Jobs

Kashmir Village Keeps Militancy Away, Embraces Army Jobs

29 December 2011
Express India
Mir Ehsan

Mirhama: It borders one of the worst militancy-hit regions of the Valley. However, at a time when much of Kashmir is debating the Armed Force Special Powers Act heatedly, Mirhama village near Shopian holds a different association with the Army. From the 400 households here, more than 200 youths are serving in the Army, Border Security Force and the Indo Tibetan Border Police. The trend started soon after Independence and didn’t see a drop during the peak of militancy years or the 2009 unrest. On the contrary, not one boy from Mirhama has ever joined a militant group. Taking a cue, youths from neighbouring villages of Motergam and Ladguh have started joining the armed forces in the past few years. Amarnath Koul from Mirhama was among the first village boys from the Valley to join the Army in 1947. He retired in the 1980s from Ladakh Scouts. His son is now a junior commissioned officer in his regiment. Among the Kashmiri Pandits who stayed back in the Valley post-1989, he recalls fondly the time he served on the India-China border. “Boys still come to me seeking counselling about the Army,” Koul added. Metres away from Koul’s house, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone shows photos of younger brother Nisar Ahmad in uniform. “He was the first boy from our family to be in the armed forces.” Lone says Nisar was inspired by others from the village. “One village boy, Rajinder Singh, rose to become major general in the Army and served as divisional commander of the Victor Force. Another became an Army major,” Lone said. Almost everyone in Mirhama, in fact, remembers the day in early 2000 when Singh visited the village. “Our village is perhaps the only one in the area where not a single boy has crossed the Line of Control for arms training,” says a proud Hamidullah Shah, Mirhama’s deputy sarpanch. Jobs with the Army have also brought relative prosperity. Raja Begum’s son Mudasir is serving in Assam. Pointing to their newly constructed house, she said: “For us, the Army and other central forces are the biggest employers.”


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