The Union Home Ministry has for the first time sanctioned the setting up of two Reserve Battalions in Jammu and Kashmir that will comprise youths living in the border areas. One battalion each for Jammu and Kashmir has been approved with 2,014 posts and Rs 105 crore financial outlay, according to the Standing Committee on Security Related Expenditure headed by Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba, officials said.
The move, they said, comes amid frequent shelling from Pakistan on the Jammu border and steep rise in infiltration by militants at the LoC in Kashmir. “These two battalions should be filled only from the youths living in the area 0-10 kilometres from the International Border (IB) or Line of Control (LoC). The area/ village should be finalized for considering the candidates for recruitment within 0-10 kilometres from IB/LoC,” reads the communication by the Home Ministry to the Jammu and Kashmir government.
The MHA also cautioned the state government about adopting transparency while recruiting to avoid a situation like previous years when there were complaints of rampant corruption and nepotism during recruitment of SPOs in Kashmir. “The eligibility criteria for the candidates should be clearly outlined while notifying the vacancies and recruitment needs to be completed with two years of sanction,” reads the MHA letter to the J&K government. “The Centre reserves the right to withdraw the sanction of 2014 posts if the state government does not adhere to laid down procedures,” the communication added.
The ministry has sought a quarterly report on the progress of recruitment from the Mehbooba Mufti government.
The decision was initially opposed by the Army and paramilitary on the grounds that it is in the Army’s and BSF’s charter to guard the international border and Line of Control, and creation of such battalions will not help the armed forces. But a Home Ministry official clarified that these battalions will be at the disposal of the state and help generate employment.