Police Recruitment Drive Won’t Satisfy Kashmir Youths: Analysts

Mohammad Amin Pirzada

2015-10-20
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151020-IN-youths-1000 Kashmiri volunteers from the National Youth Corps Association chant slogans during a protest outside the Jammu & Kashmir chief minister’s residence in Srinagar, Sept. 9, 2015.
AFP

The Indian government is trying to recruit 4,000 police officers in Kashmir, but the effort will not be enough to appease the region’s large population of unemployed young people or help prevent them from joining local insurgent ranks, experts warn.

“All Kashmiri youths do not want to join the armed forces for jobs. The Narendra Modi-led government at the center has so far failed to come up with a tangible plan to [dissuade] local youths from militancy and curb insurgency in Kashmir,” Imtiyaz Ahmad, a former professor of political sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told BenarNews.

In his view, Prime Minister Modi’s government needs to offer young Kashmiris a wider array of opportunities to lift them out of poverty, wherein lie the seeds of militancy.

“Instead, the authorities should address underdevelopment in insurgency-hit areas of Kashmir, create more job avenues in civil government departments, besides the armed forces, and make a concerted effort to restore a sense of security among people, especially the youths,” Ahmad said.

In July, Modi’s government unveiled a plan to add five battalions to the state police force in insurgency-prone areas of Jammu & Kashmir.

Since Sept. 15, police recruiters have received more than 22,000 applications for 4,000 jobs, which have opened up as part of the force’s planned expansion. Dates for interviews with prospective candidates for these jobs as constables may be announced in the coming weeks, a police official said.

Peerzada Mohammad Arif, a scholar at Kashmir University also voiced skepticism about the recruitment drive.

“The government-proposed move is aimed at pitting local youths in the form of policemen against local militants,” Arif told BenarNews.

“The government should create more job avenues for them to keep them away from militancy. Recruitment of a handful of youths will not help combat insurgency,” he said.

Tense atmosphere

Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in the Himalayas, has been in the throes of an anti-Indian separatist insurgency since 1989. Both India and Pakistan have territorial claims over Kashmir and have fought one another in several wars over it since the Indian Sub-Continent was partitioned in 1947.

Since 2013, authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir say they have noticed an uptick in local youths joining the ranks of armed separatist groups, which has corresponded with an increase in the frequency of militant attacks.

“Over 80 youths joined the militancy during the past two years, which is apparently more than 2013 and 2012,” the Daily News and Analysis quoted Army Lt. Gen. Subrata Saha, the general officer who commands the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, as saying recently.

“There is an increase in the number of local youths taking to militancy, and it is matter of concern for all security agencies," he added.

Tensions between Muslim and Hindu communities of Jammu & Kashmir state have escalated lately over a statewide ban on beef. At least two dozen people have been hurt in clashes with police during protests that followed Sunday’s death of a local Muslim man, who was the victim of a fire-bomb attack earlier this month that was connected to the communal dispute over beef, Reuters reported Tuesday.

At the same time, tensions are high in Kashmir due to protests mounted by local members of the National Youth Corps Association (NYCA), according to news reports.

More than 6,000 educated but jobless youths had been hired as volunteers earning a small honorarium through the NYCA scheme. Last year, the state’s previous government issued an order to hire youth corps members to fill vacancies in 800 upgraded schools. But a new state government, which took power in March 2015, has refused to follow through on the order, citing financial reasons, according to a report in the Kashmir Reader.

Last week, angry NYCA demonstrators who were on a hunger strike for more than 45 days, threatened to set themselves on fire, the Reader reported.

Police, army jobs popular: officials

State officials, meanwhile, are defending the police recruitment drive as necessary in helping the local force stave off the insurgency.

“The recruitment will help a good deal in strengthening the force and combating the militancy more effectively,” Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilani, Kashmir’s police inspector-general, told BenarNews.

The police force is committed to preventing youths from drifting toward insurgency, Gilani said.

Col. N.N. Joshi, a spokesman for the 15 Corps, sounded similarly optimistic, saying that youths would flock to such openings.

“There has always been a good response to jobs in army and other armed forces such as state police,” Joshi told BenarNews.

“The majority of local youths have realized the ramifications of insurgency, and want to turn to the mainstream to live with dignity,” he said.

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