18 May, 2021

Why Border Villagers Join The Forces

Among the three personnel killed in the biggest operation this year, two were from border villages in Kashmir—one an army soldier, the other an SPO

Last Stand
People offer prayers at slain SPO Yousuf Bajad’s funeral
Photograph by PTI
Why Border Villagers Join The Forces

To Iqbal Bajad, who has comple­ted his MBA, his father Yousuf, 40, was an educated man. The first matriculate from the ­family residing in Kachama village of Kupwara district in of north Kashmir, Yousuf was a daily-­wage lab­ourer before he was recrui­ted as a Special Police Officer (SPO) in 1999. He was working for the Special Oper­ations Group (SOG) of the J&K Pol­ice. On Wednesday, March 28, You­suf was killed along with a sold­ier, Ashraf Rather, 35, and anot­her SOG personnel in a gunfight with militants in Halmatpora forest, aro­und 15 km from the village.

The villagers in these parts of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district often work as porters for the army, when not ­employed as agricultural labourers further down in the Valley. There is a government-run middle school, but the dropout rate is high. The primary health centre, villagers say, is usually shut. A kuccha road, full of potholes, leads to this village.

On Wednesday, Yousuf was at home on leave when he got a call from an...

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