Srinagar, 23 August: On 23 August 1998, a group of 23 young Kashmiri boys was apprehended, while attempting to cross the LC. These young boys were being compelled into a path of militancy through false promises by a fellow Kashmiri by the name of Abdul Hamid @ Bambar Khan, a resident of Ganderbal, into joining terrorist tanzeems and were being taken to POK. Over a period of 10 days from 04 August to 14 August 1998, Bambar Khan, with the help of local OGW’s, had collected these 23 young boys, all within 18 years of age, either by force or through radicalization and had kept them in the dense jungles of Ajas. Thereafter the group moved across the Shamsha Bari range into Gurez Tulail Valley, with the aim of going across the LC, into POK. They were then to be trained there in terrorist activities and thereafter reinfiltrate back into Kashmir and indulge in terror acts, at the behest of the masterminds in Pakistan.
On 23 August 1998, information was received by the Brigade Headquarters, that a large number of youths, were seen in the jungles near the Kishenganga River. An operation was launched. It was led by (then Captain) and now Brigadier Budhwar. This group of youths was sighted in the lower reaches of the forest. The soldiers held fire, as the terrorists accompanying these youths, had run away taking cover of the thick foliage and vegetation. These young boys on seeing the Indian Army soldiers, shouted for help and immediately surrendered. The troops quickly took control of the situation and helped them to cross the river, which was in spate and escorted them to Gurez, where they were medically examined and were given food, water and warm beds to sleep. Thereafter they were brought to HQ 15 Corps in BB Cantt and were reunited with their parents.
The rescued boys, are now leading normal, happy lives and are married and have families of their own, with children, who themselves nurture dreams of having successful carriers, and being responsible citizens of the country. To commemorate this day, an event was organised at Manasbal lake, wherein, the rescued individuals, along with their families attended the event. A cultural event consisting of an Audio Visual Clip of memories of these individuals of their harrowing experiences with the terrorists in the jungle was presented and and a skit about the same was also performed. Lieutenant General YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command, felicitated the rescued individuals & interacted with their family members.
Lieutenant General DP Pandey, GOC Chinar Corps, and other senior civil and military officials, also attended the function. Speaking on the occasion, the Army Commander said, that the youth on the path of terrorism will be given a second chance to come back and integrate with their families and join the mainstream and lead a normal life, like these individuals had done, two decades back. He also reiterated that parents have an important role to play, in ensuring that their children do not follow the path of violence, which only brings pain and misery, not only for the ones who join terrorism, but also their immediate and extended families. He said, the Army is steadfast in its resolve of ethical conduct and ensuring full support to those who want to leave the path of violence.