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Why have successive J&K Governments not adopted Operation Sadbhavana?

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New Delhi, March 11: Indian Army's Operation Sadbhavana was supposed to be taken over by Jammu and Kashmir government three years after its launch, a senior retired army official tells One India.

Why have successive J&K Governments not adopted Operation Sadbhavana?

The officer was posted at the Northern Command when the Operation Sadbhavana was launched in 1998.

"Operation Sadbhavana was started by the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir under its Military Civic Action programmes, which was aimed at 'Winning the Hearts and Minds' of the people in the region, especially terror-hit areas. Initially, it was decided that the Army would carry out the social activities for three years under the programme and afterward the state government was supposed to take over the project," said the army veteran.

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He added: "The National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah was heading the Jammu and Kashmir government back in 2001, but he did not come forward to take up the project. Since successive state governments have not shown any interest in taking up Operation Sadbhavana, the Indian Army is successfully changing the lives of many people."

After the departure of Farooq Abdullah government, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress formed the government in which PDP supremo late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad were chief ministers as per their coalition pact.

Farooq Abdullah's son, Omar Abdullah, was chief minister from January 2009 to January 2015.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed again became chief minister in March 2015 with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and remained on the post till his death on January 7, 2016. His daughter Mehbooba Mufti became chief minister on April 4, 2016, and remained on the post till June 19, 2018, as the BJP withdrew its support from her government.

The army official said that the main reason behind the successive state governments' aloofness towards Operation Sadbhavana is that J&K based parties- the NC and the PDP- don't want to be seen in the Kashmir Valley promoting any initiative of the Indian Army.

"They (NC and PDP) don't want to be seen on the Indian Army's side because of their political compulsions and hence have kept a distance from the Operation Sadbhavana. But, by doing so they have not done any benefit to their voters and, in fact, have indirectly pushed them towards militants and separatists," the retired Army official said.

"Had the Operation Sadbhavana got the support of the NC and the PDP, it would have been able to eradicate militancy almost completely," said the army veteran.

He maintained that the army has been tirelessly continuing its social outreach programme and is successful in doing what the elected governments were supposed to do.

"For example, the army has started two boarding schools-one in Rajouri and second in Anantnag- which are imparting world-class education. Inspired by the education system of these schools, Bharti Airtel Foundation is interested in joining the Operation Sadbhavana," he said.

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It is notable that Operation Sadbhavana was launched by the army in 1998 in rural areas of Jammu & Kashmir where terrorists and anti-national elements had wreaked havoc by large scale destruction of government property and public assets like schools, bridges, electricity supply system, etcetera causing severe hardships to locals.

Till now, the army has spent approximately Rs. 650 crore on initiatives like quality education, women and youth empowerment, infrastructure development, health, and veterinary care.

In addition, basic needs like water supply schemes, electrification and animal husbandry in far-flung areas are given priority under Operation Sadbhavana.

Educational/motivational tours outside J&K are undertaken to expose the rich heritage and progress of India for the students.

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