Jammu, Dec 30:
When Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir nearly five months ago, the Army launched a special operation called “Mission Reach Out” to provide assistance to the people and ensure peace in the newly created Union Territory.
The mission, thus, became an addition to the multifarious activities carried out by the Army in Jammu and Kashmir over the past three decades to win over the hearts and minds of the residents and wean away the youth from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, an army officer said.
Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said the Army has continued with its pro-people activities under operation ‘Sadbhavana’ (goodwill) despite the challenging situation.
He said the activities were intensified when “Mission Reach Out” was launched after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
“Take any field, the Army is at the forefront and helping locals, students and unemployed youth to achieve their goals, honing skills of sportsmen by organising sports events and functions to promote communal harmony and providing medical assistance at doorsteps,” he told PTI.
Through the year, which saw tensions along the Line of Control and International Border due to frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan to push armed infiltrators, the Army stepped up vigil on the borders but kept its focus on reaching out to the people, he said.
According to official sources, more than 2,500 incidents of ceasefire violation took place on the borders this year, claiming the lives of 36 Indian nationals.
The ceasefire violations by Pakistan intensified after IAF jets destroyed a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26 in retaliation to the worst-ever terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on February 14 that left 40 paramilitary personnel dead.
Led by Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, top army commanders visited the forward posts frequently and reviewed the operational preparedness of the troops in all sectors in the twin Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Lt Col Anand said.
He said the Army chief undertook extensive tours of the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh during the year, while the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and other senior officers made frequent trips to the forward areas every month.
While the army commanders toured the border dozens of times between January and July, the frequency of their visits increased in the subsequent months with August and September together accounting for most of the tours. This included the three-day tour of the Army chief to Srinagar and Jammu in August and later a two-day tour of Leh in September, he said.
With the introduction of “Mission Reach Out” in August, the Army intensified its civic-action programmes across Jammu and Kashmir to ensure peace and anti-social and anti-national elements are not allowed to mislead the public, the Army PRO said.
Lt Col Anand said the Army is running 43 goodwill public schools, where 15,000 students are enrolled, and three specialised training-cum-coaching centres.
He said the Army organised over 120 sporting events for the youth.
A total of 200 medical camps, 90 veterinary camps, 100 capacity-building tours within and outside Jammu and Kashmir, integrating students and opinion makers to national mainstream were some of the highlights of the Army activities during the outgoing year, he said.
He said the Army conducted two major recruitment rallies post August, one each in Samba and Reasi districts in Jammu region, to provide an opportunity to the youth to join the Army.
The Army also reached out to ex-soldiers and conducted 35 rallies to address their issues, he said.