Lt General DS Hooda: Need to reach out to Kashmiris

Pune: There was a need to reach out to Kashmiris and bridge the communication gap through “political” measures, Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd) said, adding that scrapping the provisions of Article 370 had changed the status quo in restive J&K.

There is a fear among Kashmiris about the future, and conditions there were have been deteriorating since 2013 due to upsurge in violence, interference from Pakistan and cease- fire violations, he claimed.

“We need to reach out to the Kashmiris and fill the communication gap through correct political measures. They have aspirations and that is something we have to consider to end the conflict,” said Hooda.

“Though abrogating Article 370 is an accomplishment, we should now plan for development of the state as that would bring about intended outcomes,” he said.

“We need to know what will be the ramifications of the scrapping of Article 370, as we don’t have a synergised operational strategy to deal with the conflict in Kashmir," said Hooda.

He said the government must take a holistic approach and prepare a blueprint for J-K. “The youth is also being radicalised. For the first time, the number of local terrorists has outnumbered foreign ones,” he claimed, adding, “Peace can be achie­ved only through a new political leadership and by reducing criminal classification of a particular community.”

He said, despite this, a large number of Kashmiris want a better life and a peaceful environment and that can be achieved only through political-military arbitration.

The Army was running de-radicalisation programmes for Kashmiri youth, and had set up territorial units in the Army which recruit locals, he said. “Under Operation Sadbhavana, the Army runs 52 schools, youth engagement centres and provides counselling,” he added.

Hooda was speaking at ‘A Conversation on Article 370’, a programme organised by Entrepreneurs’ Organisation’s Pune chapter on Saturday.

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Free Press Journal