Millennium Post

Holding Army to task for Machhil, Chattergam may offer ray of hope

But many in the army feel that there has not been any new attitudinal change that has caused these juridical exercises. They say that the process of taking justice to the soldiers – otherwise provided immunity from civilian legal procedure by the AFSPA – has been a continuous process.

The Army recently collated all data regarding the reports of “excesses” made by the force from various sources since 1991. They have found that there were 1,013 reports filed against the Army personnel. All of them have either been investigated and 66 cases are being probed. Of them, 61 officers have been punished leading up to life imprisonments, but no “capital punishment” have been meted out.

Army sources who have served in the troubled Kashmir valley say that the process of smoothening the rough edges of a military force engaged in a counter-terror, counter-insurgency began in the end of the decade of 2000s.

They say while the operation ‘Sadbhavana’ – winning the ‘hearts and minds’ processes — had been in operation since the late 1990s, there was an element of mechanistic implementation of the operation till then.

If one takes the 2010 – the third year of the Kashmiri ‘intefada’ — as a cut-off date when there was an overhauling of the counter-insurgency procedures of the Indian army serving on the frontlines of counter-terrorism, then one sees a programme of “humanising” the army ops.

Little adjustments led to perceptional changes on the ground, sources say. For example, army convoys plying on the roads of the valley took a lumbering shape, especially when office goers were also on the roads trying to reach their destinations. The resultant chaos led to high stress levels, thus creating more animus against the armed forces.

Some army commanders took a decision that the convoys could move early, earlier than 9 am, creating space for the civilians to go about their normal businesses in a natural way.

Similarly, at the various check points the soldiers began greeting the stopped passengers of civilian vehicles and made frisking them, less invasive. The armymen also showed more cultural awareness and sensitivity. In a situation where there were 44 Rashtriya Rifles battalions with an annual turnover of men upto 50 per cent, orientation of the new forces that got deployed became important. They were given three to four weeks of orientation, before they were inducted.

The startling poll participation data of the ongoing legislative assembly elections by the people have shown a cumulative result of all these measures, the army would like people to believe.

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