The Indian Army has decided to recruit about 14,000 troops from among Muslim insurgents who have surrendered in the last couple of months in Jammu and Kashmir, a senior Army official said July 5.
The troops will be raised for a couple of Army battalions that will operate in the forward areas of the northern Indian state to fight terrorists.
The state government of Jammu and Kashmir has agreed to the proposal from Army chief Gen. Jaswant Joginder Singh, the Army official said, and recruitment will begin in a month. The troops raised will be equipped with modern weapons and will operate around their villages along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.
The Indian Army official said thousands of armed men belonging to more than a dozen Muslim separatist organizations in the state are ready to end terrorism, provided the Indian government gives them a rehabilitation package. Recruiting these men will neutralize many other armed men in Jammu and Kashmir, where thousands have died since the insurgency began in the early 1990s.
A ceasefire has been observed along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir since November 2003, but hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are still stationed there. About 310,000 of the Army’s 1.1 million soldiers are in the state — 100,000 in the Kashmir valley, 185,000 in Jammu province and 25,000 in the Ladakh region. The regular troops are supported by an equal number of paramilitary and police forces. New Delhi unilaterally has withdrawn about 10,000 troops since November.
Making use of the ceasefire, the Army has completed construction of a fence along the 740-kilometer Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and plans to install sensors that can detect movement from a distance of up to three kilometers along the fence.