Bhubaneswar: Dealing with the enemy with a human touch can transform the adversary into a friend, a senior army officer with experience of battling militancy in Kashmir has said.
A Pakistan-trained militant belonging to the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), who was apprehended from a village in Anantnag district in December 2001, is serving the Indian Army as a Havildar today, Maj. Gen. (Retd) Yashpal Mor said while speaking at a TEDx event organised by SOA on Sunday.
“After he was apprehended, he must have thought he would be eliminated, but we took care to treat his injured leg, tried to understand his feelings and made efforts to help him get back to the mainstream,” Maj. Gen. Mor, Company Commander of the Rashtriya Rifles unit stationed in Anantnag district which was engaged in intense counter terror operations at that time, said.
The militant, who belonged to Kishtwar region, had been transported on horseback to his hideout in the remote village across the Sinthan pass, a desolate area on the Pir Panjal ranges, he said adding his nabbing was reported to the Army headquarters and the police.
Maj. Gen. Mor said the militant was taken for interrogation to the Joint Interrogation Cell at Srinagar by the police but returned to Anantnag after a few days so that the army could conduct operations based on information provided by him.
“As he recovered slowly, I made it a routine to meet him once every day. We got talking after initial hesitation and I got to know that he came from a humble background and had studied up to Class ten,” he said.
The young man narrated his life story to the Army officer as to how he joined HuJI and travelled through an inhospitable terrain to cross over to Pakistan where he was trained for two years to be a militant.
“We gradually developed a bond as we started spending more time together, but he was worried about his parents as they would have assumed him to be dead by now,” Maj. Gen. Mor, who was part of the UN Peace Keeping Force in Mozambique in 1993-94 and awarded the SENA Medal and Coomendation Card for gallantry, said.
“I asked him to write a letter to his father to inform him that he was safe with the army. His father travelled from Kishtwar to Anantnag to the army camp to see his son. The joy of seeing a father meet his son whom he had given up for dead will remain an unforgettable experience,” he said.
As he regained health, he was asked to work in the kitchen. He was also of great help as he provided the army tips on how to operate in the jungles and high mountain tops of the south Kashmir terrain, Maj. Gen. Mor said adding “one day he told me that the image of Indian army painted in the minds of militants was totally wrong.”
“With his life back on track, I decided to find gainful employment for him. We ensured that the case against him for terror activities was dropped and he started training to become a jawan in the Indian Army,” he said.
He had since become a havildar in the army and could be promoted to the rank of Junior Officer in a couple of years. He had married and had built a decent house for himself in Kishtwar. “We speak to each other on every Diwali and Eid,” he said.
The TEDx event was held in a state-of-the-art 500 seat auditorium at SOA’s Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS), faculty of agricultural sciences, which was earlier inaugurated by Ms. Saswati Das, Vice-President of SOA. The other speakers at the day-long event, besides Maj. Gen. Mor, included Bollywood lyricist Kumaar, music composer and singer Nilesh Ahuja, Radio Jockey Raghav, social entrepreneur Pattnaik Ompriya Mohanty, sustainable development expert Kamal Prakash Seth and philanthropist Akshita M Bhanj Deo.