Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2013

“AWAM AUR JAWAN” – A UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP

By   SAHIL MANZOOR : For the past two decades, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has seen the worst of terrorism the world has ever witnessed.

It has been a long struggle for the common man.  Thousands of locals have lost their lives since the beginning of terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir.  The calm and peace of the one time favorite shooting locations of Bollywood, seems to have lost forever.Army, it seems, has formed a part of the state now.

In addition to its task of combating terrorism in the state, it has also done its bit in bringing back the life of the common man back on track.  The top brass of the army has realized the fact that the local population has to bear the brunt of the terrorists in any counter terrorism fight.  This coupled with its genuine feeling for the population of the Kashmir Valley the army has launched a fully fledged civic action operation and named as Sadbhavana.

Various goodwill projects have been undertaken by the army under Sadbhavana.  There have been some strange and interesting events in which the entire course of lives of individuals has been changed due to the efforts of the army.  One such case is on Ishfaq Ahmed of Tangdhar.

The year was 1997, terrorism was at its peak then and the people of Jammu & Kashmir were leading lives overshadowed with fear and uncertainly.  The army desperately needed local support to gain an edge over the terrorists, but the local populace seldom came up, and when they did they had to face the wrath of the extremists.

It was in such environment that Ishfaq Ahmed, a local farmer rose up to the situation and came forward.  Initially, he worked as a guide for the army and later on started providing the units with intelligence inputs.  The situation then was very volatile and one day his worst nightmare turned true.  The terrorists had come to know about his inclination towards the army and attacked his house.  His parents and brother were killed; his wife and two daughters had multiple gunshot wounds.  Ishfaq Ahmed managed to save his own life but was critically injured and was profusely bleeding.

The entire family was waiting for somebody to come forward and help but nobdy was willing.  It was then that some noble soul informed the army.  The family was immediately evacuated to Srinagar and then to Udhampur.  His wife lost one of her legs and his children were traumatized forever.  As if his losses were not enough, their house was also burnt by the villagers and they were socially boycotted.

Completely broken down Ishfaq Ahmed had no one to look at but the army.  The army on its part too spared no efforts in helping his out.  He was recognized under a special welfare scheme of IA i.e Sadbhavana. Keeping his security in mind he was given accommodation close to the local army camp.  His children were sent to Udhampur so that they could have access to quality education in a secure environment.  Even he was recruited in
JAK RIF TA Bn.

Today Ishfaq Ahmed is a Rifle Man.  He is leading a dignified life with his head held high.  His elder daughter has been employed as a teacher in an Army Goodwill School.  His younger daughter is still in school.  He has developed a special bond with the army now.  Even today, with most eyes, he gives and account of the day when the Jawans of the Indian army voluntarily and with so much readiness donate blood to him and his family.  Many such stories can be found across Jammu and Kashmir today.  What we can only expect today is that such cases of AWAM and JAWAN Coming together will definitely bring lasting peace in the valley someday soon.

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