Introduction : Lifestyle in Kashmir has always been unique by the virtue of it being a state with special status in the past, be it the topography of the state or the even shifting demography and be it the varied interests of the rulers in past or various political powers today. It has always stood unique and amongst one of them is the relationship of its citizens with the Indian Army. This bond has always been a mix of various emotions since early 1990s. The one constant that stayed with the citizens of Kashmir is the soldier and their everlasting bonds with him.
Soldier– Citizen Connect. A child as he grows up in Kashmir along with other routine activities, sees a lot of involvement of Indian Army in his lifestyle right from seeing him in various operations to conducting various activities in his village, school or mohalla. He sees a soldier, as a part of his life right from his childhood. On the other hand, a soldier when he gets posted in Kashmir starts a new way of life when he adopts a village, he begins a life full of new relations with the village elders, youth and children and these citizens become his extended family. The connect between a soldier and a Kashmiri citizens has always been on an increase, be it through educational tours, drug awareness campaigns, medical camps or conduct of various sports tournaments, talent competitions and distribution of various items, equipment, ration and helping them whenever approached by people.
Role of Parents and Teachers: School, parents and teachers play a vital role in holistic development of the child. Parents are the first mentor of the child and the teacher is the second. Both have immense contribution and responsibility in shaping child’s personality. Children behave, react and imitate same as their parents. Parents can encourage and motivate their kids to be positive, healthy and live a good life. Teachers should nurture children’s learning and give him various experiences to face this challenging world in the valley.
Importance of Stakeholders: It is for all the primary players in public life, political parties, the stakeholders in the society of Kashmir to work together for restoration of peace and normalcy in J&K. Also, Indian Army should continue to regularly interact with the stakeholders of their respective AoR and make them responsible to show the path of good citizenry to general public. Elimination of terroirsm is incidental to the establishment of peace and normalcy in the valley and stakeholders play a major role in it.
Role of Pubic Administration : Public administration helps in policy implementation which are formulated by the political executives. Their role is the most crucial in valley as they provide a range of services like education, health, cultural requirements, insurance, housing, communication, transport etc. They should work dedicatedly and help in formulation of public beneficial policies to win the trust of the people in valley. It will play a major role in bringing about economic growth and peace in Kashmir.
Role of NGOs : NGOs can rebuild the civil society of Kashmir. They can work at different levels and deal with the short term and long term consequences of violence by enabling locals to remove the structural, behavioral and attitudinal conditions leading to violence. They should take reconciliation and reconstruction measures to fill places where vaccum is created by Govt agencies.
Imp of working in unison : To ensure peace and stability in the valley, it is crucial that all the stakeholders work in cohesion. All their policies should facilitate development in valley and encourage religious, social, civic and youth leaders to promote communal harmony. They should explore the potential of Kashmir in different sectors like tourism, agriculture etc and formulate public beneficial policies. Also efforts to rebuild the society by simulation of political dialogue and public participation along with media and judiciary is equally essential.
Responsibility vs Duty : In this world full of many vicious virtues, the need of the hour for us is to accept the citizens of Kashmir as our extended families and forge beautiful bond of humanity, love and affection towards each other. We as soldiers need to decrease the distance between Kashmiris and Indians one step at a time. We must realise that they see India through us and we need to demonstrate the best of our cultures, upbringings and virtues. The serving soldiers in Kashmir valley are the point of contact between Indian Army and its citizens. We must always execute our duties keeping military ethos in the backdrop. It should become a part of our duty.
Conclusion : The Indian Army today faces multipronged challenges while operating in the Kashmir Valley. These challenges strike a soldier present on ground everyday where his ability of keeping a balance between operational effectiveness and the ever-changing social dynamics in the valley is of paramount importance. There are moments when the people try to rub in our weak spots trying to instigate matters on social media to defame the Indian Government Forces, specifically the Indian Army’s image at strategic level. Therefore, we must continue our engagements with the stakeholders as they have good influence over the people of valley and work together with them to bring prosperity in Kashmir.