The Indian Army plans to recruit women in combat roles, especially with regard to the operations in Jammu & Kashmir, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said at the Passing Out Parade at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun on Saturday.
As he went on to explain, many a time jawans in Kashmir feel hesitant about dealing with women when they are in the front lines. For this reason, the Army is in consultation with the government to introduce women as part of the forces stationed in the region.
The report in The Indian Express also quoted him on the misuse of social media to radicalise the youth of the state through a deliberate campaign to spread “misinformation”. General Rawat reiterated the role of the security forces in the Valley, saying that they were mandated to uphold peace and order, not inflict violence on the people there.
The situation in Kashmir has been volatile for decades, flaring up for worse since last summer. In the last four days alone, the army has killed 13 suspected militants, who are believed to part of a “sinister design” by the Pakistani Army to disrupt its ceasefire agreements with India along the Line of Control.
Rawat was speaking at the annual graduation ceremony of the IMA from which 479 students successfully passed out. 423 of them will be recruited as Gentleman Cadets in the force. Of these, 11 are from Jammu & Kashmir, 74 from Uttar Pradesh, 49 from Haryana and 40 from Uttarakhand.
A report in The Times of India highlighted the mixed reaction of the soldiers from Jammu & Kashmir. Even as they celebrate the crossing of such a major milestone in their careers, they cannot be free of the dread that lies ahead of them.
Recently, Umar Fayaz, a 23-year-old army officer from Kashmir, was kidnapped by militants from Shopian district of the state where he had gone for a relative’s wedding. Unprepared to face the ambush, he was killed later, creating shockwaves among his colleagues.
All 11 of those who graduated from IMA on Saturday knew Fayaz, looked up to him as a role model and are shaken by his predicament. While one claimed to be “itching” to join the mission to bring peace there, he was as much disturbed by the possibilities of what lay ahead of him. His feelings were echoes by the other men as well as their families, some of whom fear reprisal from the militants for working with the Indian Army.