Uri: The Army today claimed that the alarming trend of local youth joining militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a decline with fewer youths joining militant ranks this year as compared to last year.
"Last year, a large number of youth got recruited in militancy. But this year we are witnessing a decline in the trend. This year the number is very less compared to last year and among those who joined the militant ranks, six have returned or surrendered," General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Satish Dua told reporters.
He was here in the border town to inaugurate the Chinar Youth Club set up by Army as part of Operation Sadhbavana (goodwill) to provide opportunities to the local youth to hone their skills in different fields including sports and education.
"We intend to start training for IAS competitive exams for the desirous youths from this year," he said, highlighting the efforts of Army's Super-30 coaching programme in which 16 students of the state were selected for IIT this year.
He said the Army is also providing coaching to the local students for the National Defence Academy exams.
Referring to the Chinar Youth Club, he said Army is setting up 70 such clubs across the valley.
More than 20 have already been set up and in the next couple of months, the rest will be completed, Dua said.
The Army commander also dismissed reports that the Army is obstructing tourist activity in Tosamaidan in Central Kashmir Budgam district and Bangus valley in Handwara area of Kupwara district.
"The reports are baseless and irresponsible. Three years back the lease of Tosamiadan expired and the state government decided not to renew its lease agreement and wanted us to clear the area of the littered explosives, which was a genuine demand.
Army under an operation cleared the whole area and handed it over to the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Since then, the land is not with us and tourists are going there as well,"
"As far as Bangus valley is concerned, the people mostly do not visit there as it is very sensitive area and also close to the border. If someone wants to visit the valley, we will try he will go there," Dua said.
About the upcoming Amarnath yatra starting on July 2, he said the Army is ready to meet any challenge to ensure a peaceful pilgrimage and troops guarding the Line of Control (LoC) are fully geared to foil any infiltration attempt.