- We also offer good incentives to them: GoC
- ‘Locals often help without taking money because of good relations yielded through Sadbhavana’
With its stated objective of ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of people, Operation Sadbhavana has also helped Army cultivate informers who help them in hunting down the militants.
Talking to us, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Satish Dua said the network of local informers is being strengthened through a number of ways and one of them is meeting people and developing amicable relations through project Sadbhavana.
“The network of local informers is being strengthened in many ways. One of the important thing is we reach out to a number of people across Kashmir through project Sadbhavana and develop amicable relations with them and in return a large number of people come forward and provide information,” Dua said.
Operation Sadbhavana, according to officials, is aimed to build better relations between Army and people. Efforts are concentrated on projects at the village level.
“Those people who provide information to us are sickened by the militancy and they do not support militant activities. A large number of people from across Kashmir come forward and share information with us,” the GoC added.
He said the situation has changed and people have realized that they have paid a huge cost and have lost precious lives in militancy related incidents.
“The locals find it a very dismaying thing and there are a number of people who don’t want militancy in the state at this stage,” Dua added.
About the risk posed to the lives of informers, he said Army maintains their confidentiality and ensures they are safe.
“I agree they (informers) can’t say these things in public because they too have to live in the society and at the same time don’t want to get killed unnecessarily. Their safety and security is our responsibility so we make sure to keep them anonymous and safe,” the GoC said.
Asked why commoners would want to risk their lives and come forward to help Army, Dua said Operation Sadbhavana has helped Army to build better relations with locals so they (people) trust Army and sometimes come forward with information about militants.
“People often come to inform us out of their own will and they often help without taking money because of good relations yielded through Sadbhavana,” he added.
Besides Sadbhavana, Dua said Army also offers good incentives to informers for providing tip offs.
“The other thing to reinforce this network is by providing good incentives to informers. We give them money and they inform us in return,” he said.
The Northern Command of Indian Army launched Operation Sadbhavana in 1998 “to extend a helping hand in rebuilding the socio-economic life of people”.
“Operation Sadbhavana and activities of the State administration were amalgamated harmoniously to generate synergy, with a clear focus to bring a palpable improvement in the quality of life of the people of the state,” reads an official document about the project.
During the period of 1998-2008, a total of Rs 276.08 crores were allocated by Ministry of Defence (MoD) for various multi-faceted activities under this operation.
In 2011 and 2012 money allotted under Sadbhavana project was to the tune of Rs 42.8256 and 36.9141 crores respectively.
Army has also been running goodwill schools. According to officials, 45 ‘Army Goodwill Schools’ are functioning with around 6800 students with 346 teachers.