The Indian Tricolour is all set to fly majestically on a ‘100- feet high flag post’ in Gulmarg, the breath taking skiing destination of Kashmir. The project taken up jointly by the Indian Army and Solar Industries, a private entity, the Tricolour was inaugurated amidst chanting of prayers by the Hindus and the Muslim priests, by the General Officer Commanding of the Dagger Division of the Indian Army as a part of the Gulmarg Winter Festival, which commenced on February 6.
The festival was also organised by the Indian Army in association with the JK Tourism, JKTDC, JK Police, Gondola and Hotel Association of Gulmarg and the civil administration. Famous film personalities, Arbaaz Khan and Vidya Balan participated in the festival and returned back spellbound by the beauty and glamour of Gulmarg. “I will definitely come back soon,” said Vidya Balan, after returning from the trip. The culmination of the festival, when seen in light with the successful conduct of the DDC polls and containment of the cult of terrorism by the security forces, reflects a complete change in the environment of Kashmir. People are experiencing a kind of peace and freedom that has not been seen since decades and they are enjoying every moment of it.
The Indian Army has added to the celebratory atmosphere by organising a series of winter festivals. Before the Gulmarg extravaganza, the Army also organised a two- day festival in the last week of December 2020. Called ‘Jashn-e-Baramulla’, the festival included performances by participants of “Kashmir’s Got Talent” and various local artistes. Shopian too witnessed a grand musical festival at Batpura Sports Stadium, which attracted a massive participation of more than 5,000 people. A similar musical and cultural festival organised by the local army units at the Government College Handwara also witnessed massive participation.
The central theme of all the functions being held in Kashmir is the reflection of Badalta (transforming) Kashmir. The objective is to energise the youth by highlighting the culture and tradition of Kashmir and instil in them a confidence to take advantage of the facilities being provided to build their future. The platform is being used by senior army officers to motivate youth in this direction.
Remember, festivals are a small part of the fun-filled segment of the many actions and activities, which the Indian Army undertakes to ensure that the people of Kashmir bear minimum problems during the winters.
For many decades, the Indian Army, under the Army’s flagship welfare initiative, Operation Sadbhavna, has been providing medical assistance to the locals during the peak winter season. From extensive medical camps in which health check-ups are conducted to creating an awareness of medical health, the Army doctors give free medical treatment and medicines to the people, especially those living in the remote areas. And that’s not all, the armed forces also stay alert to carry out evacuation of civilians from the remote areas in cases of medical emergencies, especially pregnant women. On many occasions, the Army personnel have joined the locals of villages to carry such patients on army stretchers to the nearest roads from where army ambulances take them to the hospitals. In extreme cases, Army helicopters are pressed into service.
The Army also remains ever ready for avalanche rescue, floods and other natural disasters that take place often in the Valley during winters. When the region gets cut off for weeks due to the hostile weather conditions; the Army acts a bridge between the locals and the mainstream. This list is long and never-ending…
The people of the Jammu and Kashmir have, along with the Army, faced great challenges to neutralise a diabolic foreign design of wresting the region from India through the medium of low cost proxy war and cross-border terrorism. The mainstay of this epic fight has been mutual trust and an enduring bond under the most-difficult circumstances. The people maintain an unremitting faith in the soldiers, despite very sophisticated psychological warfare by the enemy to create a rift between them and the Indian Army. The Army, on its part, remains steadfast in providing a secure and meaningful environment. Thankfully, the people and the forces are standing on the threshold of success with terrorism at an all time low and the bond stronger than ever.
So far as internal security is concerned, incisive counter-terrorist operations by the security forces based on real-time intelligence provided by the locals led to the neutralising of 225 terrorists in the preceding year (2020). The numbers include the entire top leadership of the various terrorist Tanzeems that are now left headless. The forces lost about 60 of their brave soldiers in these operations. Significantly, more than 600 Over Ground Workers (OGWs) have been identified and many have been interned by the police, implying that the administrative machinery of the terrorists has also been nullified.
Despite the great improvement in the environment, there is no space for complacency, as Pakistan’s evil designs continue. The next door neighbour is determined to increase violence and terrorism by infiltration of more terrorists and weapons and by recruitment of local cadre. This is evident from the fact that last year witnessed a record 5,133 incidents of ceasefire violations in which 46 security force personnel were killed. These violations are primarily to facilitate infiltration of terrorists. The Indian response to such misadventures was massive and destructive but the enemy refuses to learn any lesson and mend his ways. Even the overwhelming spread of coronavirus in the country, and more so in the Pakistan Army, has not deterred the force from its evil machinations.
The Indian Army serves as a harbinger of peace and freedom in Kashmir with its noble work and concern for the common Kashmiri. The attachment between the army and the people, as has been seen through their close bonding through the winter season, will not allow the enemy to succeed.