The relations between the Army and the civilian population in Kashmir continue to be affected by militancy and protests, as also enforced disappearances and custodial deaths. However, in spite of the conflict, recent reports indicate that several youths from the state are now joining the army as a career option.

As many as 146 persons joined the army and were enlisted in the Jammu and Kashmir light infantry, NDTV reported. Earlier this year, 20,000 candidates applied for 55 vacancies in the Territorial Army in Kashmir, according to the report.

Representational image. Image courtesy: ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

In fact, 23 recruits are from Kupwara, which has been known as a major centre of militancy in the strife-torn state, Hindustan Times reported.

The army’s humanitarian efforts during floods in the state appear to have brought some positive transformation in its relations with the citizens. A 20-year-old student who has been recruited by the army has been quoted as saying by Hindustan Times that the army came to people’s rescue during the 2005 earthquake as well as the 2014 floods.

An article by Vivek Bharadwaj on Firstpost had said that a large number of youngsters had expressed gratitude to the army for their rescue efforts on an online platform. Some even countered posts criticising the army and claiming that they were only saving tourists and VIPs.

This comes even as the army has expressed concern over recruitment of educated youth by terror outfits, as reported by PTI. A senior army official was quoted as saying that alienation and lack of opportunities could be driving youth towards extremist outfits.

The same lack of opportunities appears to be leading youth to join the army in the state. Unemployment could be a major reason why people are seeking to join the defence forces, NDTV reported.

Last year, from July to December, 767 Kashmiri youth joined the army, according to a PTI report from March 2015 put up by The Deccan Herald. An army commander was quoted as saying that earlier 25,000 persons had applied for 1,301 vacancies.

With inputs from PTI

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Hope in the conflict zone: Kashmir youths join army in large numbers seeking better prospects