Srinagar: Amid unrest, hundreds of young men ran, huffed through push-ups and took endurance tests as they tried their luck in an army recruitment drive today in south Kashmir, the epicenter of violent protests in the Valley since July.
- The drive took place at Anantnag, around 60 km from Srinagar
- Aspirants had to leave their homes in the night to escape stone-pelters
- Out of 6,000 applicants, only 400 could make it to the interview round
The drive took place at Anantnag, around 60 km from Srinagar and one of the districts in Kashmir that have seen clashes between civilians and security forces since July 8, when Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was killed.
Many of the aspirants had to leave their homes in the dead of night to escape stone-throwing crowds and make it to the recruitment camp safely.
"I'm joining the army to serve my country," declared Zubair Ahmad in a fascinating counter-narrative to the anger on the streets and the slogan-shouting protesters who have clashed against the forces.
"I was in school and now schools and colleges are closed and the government is not able to do anything. I have decided now that I have potential to do anything for our country India," said Hilal Ahmad.
Due to unrest and continued lock down, out of 6,000 applicants, only 400 could make it to the interview round.
Crestfallen, a few of those who failed to qualify pleaded with officers to mark them leniently.
"Because of the situation and administrative problems, the candidates may not be able to turn up. Nonetheless, today being the first day, we had a good response," Brigadier JS Sanyal said.
Over 80 have been killed and around 10,000 civilians and security personnel have been injured in two-and-a-half months of violence.