October 20, 2010 3:09:17 am
After a two-decade gap that saw insurgency at its peak in Jammu and Kashmir,a Muslim officer is set to command the Srinagar-based 15 Corps that is the nerve centre of the fight against militancy in the state. Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain,who is presently commanding the Bhopal-based 21 Corps,is set to take over as the 15 Corps Commander by the end of this year after the incumbent Lt Gen N C Marwah moves on to his next posting.
Lt Gen Hasnain,who has served several stints in the Valley including a recent one as the Divisional Commander at Baramulla,is also the senior-most serving Muslim officer of the Indian Army. The officer,who is known for his academic leanings in military circles,is the only serving Lt Gen in Army ranks belonging to the minority community and is a second generation Army officer.
Hasnain will be the first Muslim officer to command the 15 Corps after Lt Gen M K Zaki who was in charge of the crucial command from 1989-91. Lt Gen Zaki was also later appointed as the advisor to the Jammu and Kashmir government from 1991 to 93.
Well regarded as an outstanding officer,Hasnain has had several stints in Kashmir and has spent a bulk of his over three decades of service in the state. More recently in 2008,the officer was instrumental in maintaining the peace in Baramulla that was badly affected when Jammu and Kashmir was struck by violence over the Amarnath row.
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Then a Maj Gen commanding the Baramulla based Dagger Division,Hasnain used the concept of what he described as soft power to defuse tension by reaching out to the masses. In his several talks with local leaders,the officer gave his personal example as a Muslim in the Indian Army to drive home the point that the minority community can do well by joining the mainstream.
Besides tackling operational hurdles,the officer has also handled controversies in the Valley and is known to employ a firm hand against malpractices. As a Brigadier in 2004 when cross-border firing was at its peak,the officer was commanding the 12 Brigade that guards the Line of Control at Uri when he conducted a court martial against a Major who was accused of rape and molestation in the infamous Handwara case. The officer,Major Rehman Hussain of the Rashtriya Rifles,was found guilty and was ordered to be dismissed from the Army.
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