Nearly 6,000 men from Jammu and Kashmir have been inducted into the Indian Army's counter-insurgency units deployed in the state, officials here said.
The men, recruited to six battalions of the Territorial Army – a civilian force of volunteers – from across Kashmir, have now returned to the state after training for deployment in operations.
"They are being attached to the Rashtriya Rifles to fight insurgents in Kashmir," a top official in the army's Northern Command told IANS.
The men – drawn from Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Kupwara and Baramullah districts – were recruited into the Territorial Army as part of a special employment package framed by the Indian government for youth in the insurgency-hit state.
The army official said two objectives guided this recruitment. "We plan to use the local men actively in anti-insurgency operations and also keep them away from the influence of militants," he said.
The induction of these men is also expected to give "new teeth" to counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, where over 3,000 militants are believed to be active, army officials said.
The Indian Army has been criticised by Pakistan for having deployed a large number of troops in Jammu and Kashmir. Islamabad has been persistently charging New Delhi with using the troops to "quell the Kashmiris' indigenous movement for freedom".
India accuses Pakistan of training, arming and supporting guerrillas in Kashmir, a charge denied by Islamabad.