(This was originally posted in Republic World by Sudeshna Singh)
As the debates around the abrogation of Article 370 continue to get triggered every once in a while, the Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command, Lieutenant General Yogesh Kumar Joshi in an exclusive conversation with Republic Media Network on Saturday asserted that the valley of Jammu and Kashmir has undergone a massive change. He asserted that in the past one and a half years, the atmosphere of the valley has changed from that of ‘violence’ to that of ‘peace’ and ‘tranquility’.
‘Massive change in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370’: Lieutenant General
Reminiscing the days before the abrogation of Article 370, Lieutenant General Yogesh Kumar Joshi asserted that the atmosphere was engulfed with violence, with the incidence of stone-pelting and firing very common in the area. Having given an insight into the past, he went on to highlight the period post abrogation of Article 370, and said, “The government came in and undertook many initiatives for the development which was, for a very long time, not talked about in the region.”
He took the opportunity to discuss the steps taken by the government to prevent the recruitment of youths of the valley into radical groups. He stated, “Lot of opportunities have been provided to the youth. Many educational organizations have been opened such as Super 30 for Medical and Super 50 for Engineering, so as to keep the youth engaged and away from the gun culture that they were exposed to all these years.”
Next, Lieutenant General Yogesh Kumar Joshi addressed the equation of India with Pakistan, which as per him was considerably better after the two sides reached an agreement on February 25, 2021. Again resorting to facts, he stated, “In 2020, there were over 5,000 ceasefire violations and in the first two months of 2021, before the agreement, there were as many as 700 ceasefire violations.” Talking about the period post-agreement, he added, “So far, there has been no ceasefire violations along the Line of Actual Control.”
He acknowledged that ceasefire violations have a grave effect on the lives and livelihoods of the citizens staying close to the Line of Actual Control both in Jammu and Kashmir and Pak-Occupied Kashmir. Pointing out that there is a ’cause-effect loop’, he explained, “First, we have ceasefire violations, then infiltration and that leads to violence in the hinterland, so all these three things are very closely interlinked and therefore, the sustenance of ceasefire understanding will definitely reduce violence in Jammu and Kashmir and act as a catalyst of persistent peace in the valley.”
During the exclusive conversation, Lieutenant General Yogesh Kumar Joshi also touched upon how the period of COVID-19 had been for the Army. He pointed out that in the past 18 months, the Army had not only provided beds in the army hospitals but has also come up with oxygen beds in different parts of the valley to accommodate all those suffering from the infection. Besides providing beds, as per him, they have also provided other equipment essential for the treatment and mended oxygen plants, which were lying unutilized all these years, to generate oxygen enough for the valley.