Slain Terrorists’ Last Letters To Mothers Genesis Of Army’s ‘Operation Maa’, Says Lt Gen (Retd) Dhillon In His Book

NEW DELHI, Mar 5: Letters written to their mothers or those from their mothers recovered from slain terrorists gave the Army the idea of launching ‘Operation Maa’ to ensure that young boys do not fall prey to Pakistan’s false propaganda, says Lt Gen K J S Dhillon (retd).
As part of ‘Operation Maa’, the Army appealed to the mothers of local terrorists to impress upon their sons to shun the path of violence and rejoin the mainstream for safe rehabilitation.
Lt Gen Dhillon, who retired as the director general of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), was the head of the strategically located XV Corps in Kashmir when Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was abrogated and it was divided into two union territories in 2019.
Shortly after he took over as the General Officer Commanding of XV Corps, a CRPF convoy was attacked by terrorists of banned Jaish-e-Mohammed in February 2019, leaving 40 troops dead.
In his book, “Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye”, Lt Gen Dhillon writes that he realised from his earlier stints as Army Captain, Major, Commanding Officer and Brigadier that Kashmiri boys listen to their mothers much more than their fathers.
“During my earlier tenures …. on elimination of local terrorists, we invariably found a letter written either by him to (his) mother or by his mother to him.
“Hence, the genesis of ‘Operation Maa’ lay in my understanding of this societal and family dynamic in Kashmir,” he said, adding “It was thus very clear to me that boys in Kashmir have an extremely strong bond with their mothers.” Lt Gen Dhillon recalled that he got a proper analysis done on the life of a terrorist.
“Trust me, the results were even an eye-opener for me too. Seven per cent of the local youngsters who picked up the gun were getting killed in an encounter in the first 10 days, 17 per cent in three months and 36 per cent in six months and the remaining in a period of a year or so,” he said.
Besides, he writes, 83 per cent of the new entrants in terror ranks had a history of being stone pelters.
“So, I remember that when I met the mothers and fathers, I made it clear that today’s stone pelter is tomorrow’s terrorist. Instead of seeing the coffin of your son, motivate them to return to the national mainstream,” he said.
The parents were assured that their children would not face any action upon their return.
“I am proud that at least 50 boys returned to their families and on some of the occasions, the Army had to halt the anti-militancy operation to ensure safe passage for the boys who wished to return to normal life,” Lt Gen Dhillon said.
“Vultures” across the border wanted to target the youths who had returned to the mainstream, but the Army kept their identities under wraps, he said with a sense of pride.
“Today, many of them would be attending colleges, helping their fathers in the fields or some would be earning daily bread for their families, I wish them all the best,” he said. (Agencies)