Thousands flock to join Indian Army in Kashmir (Lead)

February 19th, 2011 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Feb 19 (IANS) More than 8,000 Kashmiri young men Saturday thronged a recruitment rally in Kashmir Valley’s Ganderbal district to join the Indian Army.Braving rain and sleet, the youths reached the Manasbal Sainik School in north Kashmir early morning hoping to join the million-strong army.

The recruitment is being held to recruit soldiers from Srinagar and Anantnag districts. Similar drives will be held for other districts in the valley in the coming days, said an army official.

Carrying their testimonials, the youths jostled with each other to make it to the rally. Many had been in queue since dawn.

“I have been waiting outside the gate since 5 a.m.,” said a 20-year-old who gave his name as Sajjad. A resident of Anantnag, he came to Manasbal, 34 km north of summer capital Srinagar, from Anantnag in south Kashmir.

Added a graduate from Anantnag, Ishfaq: “Joining the army has been a passion for me. There is a lot of unemployment here, and the army can give me the chance to earn a decent living.”

The enthusiasm of the locals to look for a career in the army is a far cry from the past when Kashmiris shied away from joining the security forces in the Kashmir Valley.

“As more and more Kashmiris join the army and other forces, the distance between the youth and security forces would naturally start melting,” said a police officer posted at the recruitment rally.

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