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If people spare us, we can carry out Israel-like drone strikes in Kashmir: Army Chief

Srinagar, Nov 29: Indian Army is equipped to carryout Israel-like, target-based drone strikes across the border as well as in mainland Jammu and Kashmir if the people of the country forgive them for any collateral damage, General Bipin Rawat said.

As per report carried by the Wire on Wednesday, the Army Chief made the comment during a question and answer session at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in Delhi after delivering the ninth YB Chavan Memorial Lecture.

“When you talk of strike drones, how does the Israeli strike the Hezbollah–how do they do it? You see, they have sources on the ground, who pinpoint a vehicle–who say that this is a vehicle in which a leader has just come out of a house, and somebody has just given the information. They electronically mark that vehicle,” he was quoted as having said.

“That vehicle gets marked. And now a drone takes off in the air and hits that vehicle. God help you if you’re in the following vehicle–you’re also gone,” he said.

He, the report added, said that “the way things are moving in our country, it’s very nice to say we need these drones”.

“But will you accept mistakes being committed by such weapon systems? You have to accept it. If the nation will spare us, for the kind of mistakes that may get committed using such kind of weapons, then I think we can take a call,” he said.

Asked if the Army can carry out such strikes across the border, Gen Rawat said they can but “mistakes” can happen.“Either way, whether in your territory or the territory across, there will be mistakes. So, if we are willing to accept these mistakes, and we feel that there will be no repercussions, there will be no backlash, there is a way forward.”

“It’s not to say that we can’t use it. That is the reason why we are trying to procure these weapons. But these weapons are being procured more for… not for the hybrid warfare systems, we’re looking at it from the conventional war… but yes, anything that we procure has got dual use.

“But the first issue is of collateral damage. We get so concerned. In your own nation, your people get concerned about collateral damage so much–when you are fighting this kind of warfare, I think you have to accept that collateral damage will happen. It is war. If that is something which we can accept, then there is just no problem in using these kinds of weapons.”

This is not the first time the army chief has made any controversial remark.

Earlier this year, he alleged that the government schools in Kashmir were breeding separatist sentiments.“If you go to any Kashmir school you will find two maps — one of India and the other of J&K. Why should there be a separate map of J&K!” Gen Rawat had said in January and recommended that education in the state be “reformed”.

In 2017, Gen Rawat was criticised for awarding a medal of commendation to Major Leetul Gogoi – the army officer who courted international controversy by tying a Budgam civilian to the bonnet of his jeep – even as the army’s own court of inquiry into his action was underway.