Home Ministry to raise forces from South Kashmir

The home ministry is likely to approach the Cabinet committee on security shortly with a detailed proposal to recruit Kashmiri youth into the forces.

New Delhi: In a move both strategic and symbolic, the home ministry plans to raise five special battalions of para-military forces and five India Reserve (IR) battalions, exclusively from the south Kashmir regions to generate more employment opportunities for the youth in the militancy-prone region. The move is strategically significant since south Kashmir has witnessed maximum violence in the past few months and even intelligence inputs suggest that most of the fresh recruits for terror outfits are from the area.

While the expenditure for recruiting central forces would be paid entirely by the para-military concerned, the cost for the IR battalions would be shared jointly by the state government and the home ministry.

Sources said a detailed analysis by security forces of the violence that gripped the Valley after the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani revealed that unemployment was one of the main reasons why the youth, even the educated ones, from south Kashmir were getting attracted to subversive activities.

Sources in security agencies said that with private sector virtually having no major financial activity in the region, the onus was now on the government to initiate job creation for the youth.

“Both the Centre and state have realised that they have to undertake a major exercise to create more jobs for the youth in the terror-affected areas, so that after getting employment, a large section of the youth will move away from such subversive activities,’’ a senior official said.

The home ministry is likely to approach the Cabinet committee on security shortly with a detailed proposal to recruit Kashmiri youth into the forces.

In April, the Centre had cleared a proposal for raising five IR battalions, including one exclusively for women, for the youth from the border districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was decided that 60 per cent of the seats would be reserved for the youth from the border areas and the all-women battalion would be used to deal with stone pelters.

A similar exercise would now be initiated for south Kashmir as unemployment in the Valley is said to be at an all-time high.

Sources claimed that as many as 1.4 lakh Kashmiris, most from the Valley, applied for the 5,000 posts of the IR battalions, in April, a clear indication that the youth want to work.

So by opening up recruitment for the para-military we plan to create similar opportunities,’’ the official added.

Sources claimed that Centre also plans to expedite releasing the Rs 80,000 crore special package for J&K which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. So far 19,500 crore has been released for as many as 63 different projects involving both the State Government and 15 central Ministries. Senior officials feel these projects too and allocation of fund sin days ahead too would help create more job opportunities for the youth in the State which would have a direct impact on the security situation.

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