We’re only facilitators for peace in J&K: Gen Rawat

Kashmir Times. Dated: 1/11/2019 11:21:35 AM

`Afghan-Taliban talks analogy cannot apply to J&K’

NEW DELHI, Jan 10 (Agencies): Stating that the armed forces “were only facilitators for peace in J&K”, the army chief Gen Bipin Rawat Thursday said that Afghan-Taliban talks analogy “cannot apply to J&K where talks have to be on our terms.”
Rawat, speaking at his annual press conference, also said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir needed to be improved further. “We are only facilitators for peace in J&K," he said.
With the US and Russia reaching out to the Taliban in Afghanistan, Gen Rawat said, "We have interests in Afghanistan, we can't be out of bandwagon.” “The same analogy can't apply to Jammu and Kashmir. Talks in the state have to be on our terms,” he asserted. The Army chief said talks and terror cannot go together and it applies to Jammu and Kashmir too. Talking about Kashmir, he said, “Come to the negotiating table, we can talk. But you have to shun the gun. Also, the number of conditions laid down make it difficult to hold talks.”
Army chief said that the security forces were using various strategies to bring situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control and there was standing offer for the terrorists.
“We're adopting both hard and soft approaches. The offer to terrorists to join the mainstream stays. If that happens, people of the state will be benefit the most,” Gen Rawat said.
He added that security forces were deployed in Kashmir for peace but the separatists should also shun violence. On talks with the Hurriyat, Rawat said they should immediately shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour. “Our position is very clear. Shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour. Talks can happen only if they lay down weapons. During Ramzan, we had given opportunity to the separatists to lay down arms. But if someone picks up the gun, we will take action,” Rawat said.
He said the Indian army was a professional outfit and never targeted civilians. "However, when terrorists operating from the western border try to cross the border, it becomes difficult to differentiate between a civilian and a terrorist.”
“We have managed the situation well along the northern and western borders,” Gen Rawat said, adding that there should be no cause for concern.
To a query if the terrorists could infiltrate into the country from the Punjab border, Rawat said, “We have state-of-the-art technologies to prevent such activities.” He said the Army's Northern Command would get new sniper rifles by January 20 and added that the force was using quadcopters for surveillance in border areas. "These high-end gadgets help in detecting explosives," he said.
Meanwhile, responding to a question on Army veterans, Rawat said he had heard about some rift among veterans. “I have heard there is some disunity among some of our veterans. I think they need to be united. Our veterans are a very strong community and their unity is a must to support the mainstream,” he added.
On Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) he said the organisation had assured to handover the missiles and rockets that had been ordered by February-March. "If they fail to deliver, we will go in for imports," Gen Rawat added.
He clarified that some nations were in favour of speaking to the Taliban. “If India thinks it has stake in Afghanistan then we must step in. I am not saying we should take the lead. But at least, go and listen to what is being discussed in Afghanistan.”
The same did not apply to J&K as it’s a bilateral issue with our western neighbor, he added. On the situation in J&K, he said, “I am not saying it’s totally under control”, adding that there was no change in the situation at the LoC since Imran Khan had taken over.
“There is always the endeavour to bring peace. We are only facilitators of peace for the Valley. People say let’s tone down operations; can anyone give the guarantee that no convoy would be attacked in Kashmir.”
He said the situation is fine on the western and northern fronts and there was no cause for concern. Answering a question on changes in tackling China after the Wuhan summit, Gen Rawat said, “We are maintaining peace and tranquility of the kind that we wish.”
On the proposed restructuring of the Army, he said that in mid-2019 the restructuring of the Army headquarters would begin. The setting up of the Integrated Battle Group (IBG) would be tested on ground in May then the Army would move to implement it; The IBG would not be a ‘Mini Strike Corps’, he said.
On his tenure, he said the time had come to consolidate on issues now under progress. “In the third year (of his tenure) I will strive to bring the issues to conclusion.”
He said he had involved Army commanders in discussion on restructuring. “There can never be 100 per cent consensus. We cannot take a decision on 100 per cent consensus, it’s about leadership. There are some issues which go beyond consensus, yes a majority view has to be taken,” he said.
On the soldiers who are genuinely disabled, Gen Rawat said, “To address disparity in disability pensions is top of my agenda.” Answering a question, he said, “We are coming up with a plan. We have address disabilities. The Army will observe this year for the next of kin of the disabled or killed soldiers. We will identify those who need help.” On the misuse of social media, he said those flouting the guidelines would invite action.



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