Will restore normalcy in Kashmir at any cost: Army Chief

14 January 2017

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat on Friday said there was an urgent need to bring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir back to normal and end the indoctrination of Kashmir's youth by interests currying favour to Pakistan.

Rawat said the proxy war that was going on was affecting the "secular fabric" of the country and that the Army will go to any extent to restore peace in the valley.

Addressing a press conference ahead of Army Day, Rawat pointed to the need to identify the ''centre of gravity'' of the divisive forces that are working against the interests of the state and its people.

"What happened in 1989, the secular credentials were on target... We have to make sure Jammu and Kashmir revives back to what it was," the Army Chief said.

He said "indoctrination" was taking place.

"How is the educated youth taken up the gun? Some indoctrination is taking place," he said.

"We are a secular nation," he said adding that we need to deny space to people who are trying to disrupt harmony.

"While we have challenges along our borders, we've to be concerned about the proxy war, terror that are affecting secular fabric of our nation." Rawat said.

He said the state has witnessed violence in last few months but the situation has been brought under control by the security forces in combined effort.

"In the last couple of months, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed come violence. Security forces, all of them are working together have been able to bring the situation in control. We need to ensure situation is not allowed to escalate," he said.

"We need to make the people understand that government efforts are to bring peace and harmony".

Rawat said school and colleges must function, and so should tourism flourish in the state.

"Why don't we allow it to become the heaven on earth that it is. So that people can visit and see the beauty that is there. For this, the security forces have to maintain round the clock vigil," he said.

He added that the Army is ready to go "beyond its mandate" and is "willing to walk the extra mile" for this.

Rawat said earlier, when the centre of insurgency used to be in villages, population was considered the centre of gravity, but in an urban set up, with larger demography, it becomes difficult to identify the centre of gravity.

"We need to identify the centre of gravity," he said.

Stating that proxy war, terror and left wing extremism will keep the country "embroiled" for many years to come, he said it is important to provide soldiers weapons that give maximum lethality. For this the Army Chief said modernisation is required in the coming years.

"The emphasis is on ensuring we get weapon systems with better range, accuracy and lethality," he said.

Rawat also made it clear that more surgical strikes cannot be ruled out as India has the "right to retaliate" if Pakistan does not ''react positively to offers of peace.''

Gen Rawat also said India needs to "wait and watch" the Pakistani response in Jammu and Kashmir.

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