New Delhi: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has said that the youth in Kashmir need to be told that ‘freedom’ would never happen and that they cannot fight the Indian security forces. The Army Chief’s remarks have come at a time when there has been a surge in the number of youth in the Valley joining terrorist ranks and indulging in stone pelting.
Speaking exclusively to The Indian Express newspaper, General Rawat said the youth in Kashmir are being misled by those who tell them “picking up the gun” would bring ‘Azadi’. “I want to tell Kashmiri youth that Azadi isn’t possible. It won’t happen,” the Army Chief said.
“Don’t get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek Azadi, those who want to secede. (Azadi) is not going to happen, never,” he stated.
Stressing that “you can’t fight the Army”, General Rawat said the Army wasn’t much concerned about the number of terrorists being killed in encounters. He stated that the terrorists cannot achieve anything as ultimately, they cannot fight the Indian Army.
“These numbers don’t matter to me because I know this cycle will continue. There are fresh recruitments happening,” he told the daily.
The chief however stated that the killings in the Valley make no one happy. “We don’t enjoy it. But if you want to fight us, then we will fight you with all our force,” he said.
The Army Chief further rejected the ‘being brutal’ charge on the Indian security forces, while highlighting the situation in Pakistan and Syria. “Kashmiris have to understand that the SFs (security forces) haven’t been so brutal — look at Syria and Pakistan. They use tanks and air power in similar situations. Our troops have been trying their level best to avoid any civilian casualty despite huge provocation,’’ he said.
“I know that the youth are angry. But attacking security forces, throwing stones at us isn’t the way,” he said further, adding the challenge was to bring back calm in the Valley.
General Rawat also hit out at those who have been inciting civilians to attack security forces during encounters. “I don’t understand why people are coming out in huge numbers to disrupt our operations. Who is inciting them? If they want that the militants aren’t killed, they should go and tell them to come out without their weapons so that nobody is killed,’’ he stressed.
“Let anyone of them say — mein le kay aata hun (I will bring him out). We will halt our operation. We can’t allow people to disrupt our operations and help terrorists to flee,” he said further, adding that by pelting stones the civilians are in fact “inciting security forces to become more aggressive.’’
General Rawat said the Kashmiri youth have fallen in Pakistan’s trap and that they are being “consistently incited to attack us”.
He also noted that the Kashimir issue doesn’t have a military solution, while adding the Army was “ready to suspend” military operations in the Valley to ensure civilians aren’t killed. He, however, asked who will ensure the security forces personnel aren’t fired upon, their vehicles aren’t attacked.