Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat on Saturday said the use of the human shield in Kashmir was “circumstances-based” and would not be used as a standard operating procedure as his soldiers had “a very good human rights record” and were doing a “great job” to bring peace in the troubled state.
Gen. Rawat exuded confidence that the Kashmir situation would be brought under control as trouble was only limited to some parts of the south of the valley.
“Security forces and all agencies are doing a great job to bring the situation under control. Some parts of south Kashmir are troublesome. Necessary action is being taken. I don’t think there should be any cause of worry,” the Army Chief told reporters after reviewing the combined graduation parade at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal here.
Speaking about the April 9 controversy over using a civilian as a human shield against stone-pelters in Kashmir, the General said every action was taken “considering the nature of the task that we are expected to carry out under the circumstances”.
When a reporter asked if he would make using human shields a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the Army chief remarked that the media was asking a question whose answer is known. “I will ask a counter question. Is media expected to report the truth what will be the answer? You would never say no. You are asking me a question the answer of which is known to you.”
When the reporter wanted to know if his answer means that human shields will be part of SOP, he said: “No. It is not. What I am saying is it is not considered. I said it depends on the circumstances. It is circumstances-based. Each one takes action based on the circumstances, but the effort is to make sure that human rights violations are not there.”
He said his force was concerned about human rights and would make sure rights of people were not violated.
“We are an Army which believes very strongly in human rights and we have a very good human rights record.”
He said his soldiers knew how to deal with “children and women” who are part of mobs pelting stones at security forces in the Kashmir Valley.
“When they find there are children and there are ladies who are coming in front, they deal with them accordingly. Harsh measures are never used.”
The Army Chief blamed “misinformation and disinformation” being spread in the state for the trouble and forcing youth to take up arms.
“I am quite confident that they will soon understand that what they are doing is not good for their own state and people.
“I am quite sure of some of the young people who should have books and computers in their hands and preparing for exams to get into IITs and IIMs will soon be brought on the right side of the fence.”
The General refused to comment on the ongoing political blame game over the trouble in Kashmir and said armed forces don not care about statements by politicians. “We have a task at hand, for that we work round the clock.”
He did not see any harm in posting the army in close proximity with people so far as the aim was to bring peace.
“The Indian Army belongs to its people. We are the peoples’ armed forces. We have been called upon to do a particular task by the government of India because they felt that there is a requirement for the army.
“We are there to see that the situation is brought under control, therefore in the present juncture we have to continue with the task in the manner in which we were carrying on.”
He asked the armed forces to maintain high standards of integrity and not to lose the trust of people of the country.
“Integrity is the foundation of our military profession. If doubted, we may lose the trust of our society. If the society doesn’t trust its defence forces it will be difficult for the nation to maintain its military and protect itself.”