Home Ministry Will Recruit 16,460 Locals in J&K to Fight Kashmir Unrest
Around 1000 locals will become part of CRPF’s locally raised battalions, sources say. Two battalions will be brought up on the lines of the Bastariya Battalion, comprised mainly of local tribals, that is being raised by CRPF to fight Naxals in Bastar.
CRPF jawans. (Representative image. Photo: Reuters)
New Delhi: Could this be the next big moment in the three-decade-old Kashmir conflict? The Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to recruit more than 16,000 locals from Jammu and Kashmir in various wings of India’s armed forces.
And among them, around 1,000 locals will become part of CRPF’s locally raised battalions, sources say. Two battalions will be brought up on the lines of the Bastariya Battalion, comprised mainly of local tribals, that is being raised by the CRPF to fight Naxals in Bastar.
The information about Home Ministry’s decision to recruit 16,460 people from J&K in various security forces came to light through a response made by the ministry in Parliament.
The Home Ministry was asked whether it is interested in holding dialogue with Kashmiri separatist groups, to which the MoS Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, said that the government was willing to work with anyone who "eschews the path of violence" and is willing to "work within the framework of the Constitution of India."
To the other question about the steps taken by the ministry to "bring normalcy to the Kashmir Valley", Ahir responded by listing details of the massive local recruitment program in the armed forces for locals that the Home Ministry has just approved — a total of 10,000 Special Police Officers (SPOs), 5,381 personnel in Five new India Reserve Battalions (IRBs), 1,079 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles.
Senior security officers and sources in Home Ministry told News18 that the last category of 1,079 personnel will be used in constituting two battalions of the CRPF, apart from a small number that will be recruited in Assam Rifles.
“Yes, we have begun a process to raise two battalions in Kashmir. Consultations had begun last year and after our recommendation, the matter was pending in the Home Ministry for a while,” said a senior CRPF officer.
One battalion is made of 1,100 soldiers. But these battalions won’t only have locals. “People from the state will be there in majority but these battalions will also have soldiers from other parts of India. We will have about 600 from Kashmir and the rest from other parts,” the officer added.
CRPF’s decision to raise Bastariya Battalion in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar division, which is the hotbed of Left-extremist militants, had come under severe criticism by human rights activists who had alleged that the state was basically arming locals to fight each other.
Apart from forming CRPF’s forces, locals are also forming substantial sections of IRBs. One of the five IRBs will be comprised exclusively of local women.
The MoS Home Affairs, Ahir, said that recruitment of locals in armed forces was conceived with the idea of encouraging youth to join the mainstream and "providing employment opportunities to wean them away from militancy".
Recently, the Army also held examinations to fill 700 vacancies in territorial army, in which a total of 24,000 youth had reportedly participated.
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