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Indian army chief talks tough on border issue
Publication Date : 14-01-2014
Taking a tough stand on the ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC), the Army chief, General Bikram Singh, today said: “If rules are followed by our neighbours, we follow them too. If they break them, we won't sit on it, we will break them too.”
Addressing the media ahead of Army Day on January 15, Gen Singh, who is also the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), said: “We reserve the right to retaliate and we have given freedom to local commanders to act as they deem fit depending on the situation.”
Taking strong exception to reported parading of the head of an Indian soldier on TV, the Army chief appealed to the media to refrain from showing such pictures. He said: “We cannot show such pictures as it affects the sensitivity of the soldiers’ family”. He said the Army “has sought authentication of these pictures. But, it is barbaric and highly despicable and is condemned by one and all”.
Elaborating further, Gen Singh said: “Since the video has come to light and once we identify it, there is need to take up the issue at the appropriate level and the soldier has got to be respected. It is a brutal act and needs to be condemned.”
On the post-2014 scenario in Afghanistan after withdrawal by American and other troops and its impact on India, the Army chief said: “We have to be on guard and look at developments in Afghanistan. Therefore we cannot dilute AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and have to continue it.”
On the fallout in India, specially Jammu and Kashmir, he said: “We hope for the best and cater for the worst. We have to see the spillover from Afghanistan to Jammu and Kashmir and we have to be on our guard and look at developments in Afghanistan.”
The Army chief said the armed forces need to stay in Kashmir “under the present circumstances” and AFSPA, which provides immunity to the armed forces, shall not be tampered with.
“We should wait for conditions to improve before making changes to the national strategy regarding the army deployment in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“The military viewpoint (on AFSPA) is that we have to wait for some time to monitor the situation. A decision will be taken only after that,” he said.
The J&K government has been demanding withdrawal of the law from certain areas of the state, where the situation has improved. The Act is largely perceived as draconian and a demand for its withdrawal has been made by the people from north-east states too.
To questions on alleged human rights violation by the Army in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Singh said, “There is zero tolerance towards human rights violation... Our rules of engagement are based on those followed by a civilised society.”