Will ensure ‘peaceful’ atmosphere for JK polls: Army Chief
New Delhi: Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat gestures during the Army's annual press conference in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist (PTI1_13_2017_000080B)
New Delhi, Sep 23: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Sunday said the Army would ensure a “peaceful atmosphere” in the state so that people could cast their vote in free and forthright manner.
“The Army is required to provide security not by itself but along with all the security agencies. Our job is to ensure that the civil administration there and the Election Commission is able to carry out the task and people can come out in peace to cast their vote for the person whom they wish to elect as a Sarpanch and the other members of the committee. Our task is mainly to ensure a peaceful atmosphere and people can cast their vote in a free and forthright manner without fear and any kind of disruption,” General Rawat stated in an interview to news agency ANI.
He further said, “We are looking at the Panchayat elections; we want it to go through because with this, the power will devolve to the people and the people have been saying that there is a lack of governance. If they want proper governance, then, the Panchayat elections are a way for it. Why should anybody oppose Panchayat elections? Why anybody would try to disrupt the peaceful elections process which is one of the democratic processes in which our country is functioning.”
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir Shaleen Kabra on September 16 announced that Panchayat elections in the state would be held in nine phases, from November 17 to December 11, between 8 am and 2 pm. With the announcement of the Panchayat elections schedule, the Model Code of Conduct is already in place.
Days after the state Election Commission announced the dates for Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir, miscreants attempted to set ablaze a Panchayat Ghars in several areas of the state.
Meanwhile, reacting on the Indian government’s decision to call off the Foreign Minister-level talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, General Rawat said that “terrorism” and peace talks cannot take place together.
In a strong statement, General Rawat told reporters that the Indian government’s policy is very clear that Pakistan, with their actions, has to prove that they are not promoting “terrorism”.
“Talks are not being held, because our government’s policy is that talks and terrorism cannot take place together. We have given a clear message to Pakistan. Government’s policy is clear that Pakistan has to prove with their actions that they are not promoting terrorism,” he said.
Hailing the Indian government’s stand to cancel talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries later this month, the Army Chief said, “Only the government can decide if talks should be held in such an environment and I think the government has taken the right decision.”
He added, “This type of tension in the border has been continuing. They (Pakistan) keep saying that they would not let their soil be used for militant activities against other nations. But we can see that such activities are taking place and militants are coming from across the border.”
On September 21, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, its “evil agenda stands exposed and the true face of the new Pakistan Prime Minister has been revealed.”
India, on Friday, pulled out of the proposed meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, hours after two Special Police Officers and one policeman in Jammu and Kashmir were kidnapped and killed by the militants.
Apart from this, the body of a Border Security Force (BSF) Head Constable Narender Singh was found with multiple bullet injuries on his torso and neck on September 18.