New Delhi: Indian Army chief General BipinRawat has said the youth in Kashmir must not get “carried away unnecessarily” and understand “azadi” is not possible as the security forces will always fight those who want to secede.
In an interview with Indian Express on Thursday,Rawatsaidhe was concerned that the youth in the strife-torn state are picking up guns and “those who tell them (that) this path will bring azadi … misleading them”.
“These numbers (of militants who are killed in gunbattles with the army) don’t matter to me because I know this cycle will continue. There are fresh recruitments happening. I only want to stress that all this is futile, nothing is going to be achieved by them. You can’t fight the army,” Gen Rawat said.
Gen Rawat said that Army was ready to “suspend” military operations in the valley to avoid civilian killings but hastened to add that there was no guarantee that militants too will suspend their attacks on the forces and refrain from targeting civilians.
“…who will guarantee that there won’t be fire at our men, at our vehicles? Who will guarantee that policemen, political workers, our men returning home on leave aren’t attacked, aren’t killed?’’ he asked.
The general reiterated that “there isn’t a military solution to this issue” and wants politicians and political representatives to talk to people, especially in south Kashmir.
“But they are scared that they will be attacked. It will happen once there is calm. And we are hopeful that people will soon realise that all this is futile and start thinking differently,” he said.
He said that the security forces “don’t enjoy” killing but if anyone wants to “fight us then we will fight you with all our force”.
“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.
Interestingly, barely a month back Rawat admitted that there was a no win situation in Kashmir and neither army nor the militants would achieve anything through the violence.
On April, 15, Rawat had said that: radicalised youth of Kashmir would soon realise that the gun was not the solution to their problem as neither the army nor the terrorists would achieve their goals through it.
Peace, according to him was the only way to improve the situation in Kashmir that had been witnessing insurgency for about three decades now.
Rawat in his interview expressed concern over people flocking to sites of gunbattles and “inciting security forces by pelting stones at them to disrupt the operations … They are inciting security forces to become more aggressive.’’
“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 … We will halt our operation. We can’t allow people to disrupt our operations and help terrorists to flee,” he told the Indian Express.
The general said the army, which has been criticised for using extreme force in the state, “did try a soft approach too” and pointed out to the violence in 2016 after HizbulMujahideen’sBurhanWani was killed in a gunfight with security forces.
“… Until June 2016, everything was fine. What is that incited people so much because of that one encounter? Everything was turned upside down in a few days’ time. The entire South Kashmir was out in the streets, throwing stones at us, attacking our posts,” he said.
He said he was getting messages that people in the state were saying “azadidurnahihai (azadi isn’t far away)” by October-November that year.
“Somebody was feeding this to people, telling them Azadi was around the corner. Our posts were being regularly attacked. Stones were being pelted at our men … We had to bring the situation under control. We couldn’t afford all that. We needed to tell people Azadi isn’t happening. We had to establish the writ (of the state)”.
“(The BurhanWani encounter) wasn’t the first such encounter in Kashmir … I am still trying to understand where did all that anger come from. The youth have gotten themselves in Pakistan’s trap. They are being consistently incited to attack us,’’ he said.
He added that youngsters, who have picked up guns, and terrorists aren’t a big challenge for the army and that the army has repeatedly asked people not to come to disrupt their operations and throw stones at security personnel.