The Army is not in favour of withdrawing from the Kashmir Valley just yet as had been sought by Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan recently.
Army chief General Bikram Singh while addressing the customary annual press conference on Monday said the situation in the Valley needs to be analysed before taking any decision.
“We should wait and see how the situation goes. Jammu and Kashmir is our State, our country. The Army is playing its role as per the national strategy.” Also, the Army chief cautioned against tinkering with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
General Singh said the Army has “zero tolerance” policy towards human rights violations and the rule of law has been upheld in the Machchil fake encounter case in which two officers and four jawans have been found guilty and proceeded against.
As for the Pathribal case, he said, the matter was still under investigation and sub judice. He described these incidents as “aberrations”.
On the ceasefire violations on the Pakistan border, the General said it would be incorrect to say that India has not reacted. “The intention is not to escalate; rather it is to give a professional response at the specific place.”
In this regard, the General said, India adheres by the Geneva Convention and believes in upholding human rights and dignity.
“But if rules are broken by them, we will also not hesitate to break them.”
He said the fact that India has responded adequately is borne by the fact that a Pakistani channel Geo TV reported how one officer and nine jawans had been killed. “These are your soldiers on the ground, they have done their bit. The soldiers have reacted well.”
Decapitation of Lance Naik Hemraj
General Singh also responded to the killing and decapitating of Lance Naik Hemraj saying it was a “highly condemnable barbaric act”. He, however, appealed to the media to be sensitive towards the feelings of the families of the soldiers before showing footage of their killings or dismembered bodies.
On why the issue has not been raised with Pakistan, the Army chief said it needs to be probed if it the act of desecrating the mortal remains of a martyr was the work of terrorists or if the Pakistan Army was also involved.
The General said the Director General of Military Operations level talks at Wagah border in Pakistan recently were a “move in the right direction”. They were aimed at ensuring that the ceasefire holds and the environment remains conducive to peace.
The General said to take the talks forward the meeting of the commanders from the two sides is also scheduled to be held soon but the dates are yet to be decided.
Following these talks, General Singh said the first violation of ceasefire took place on Monday morning in Jammu and Kashmir. “Three terrorists were seen coming in and whenever a terrorist is seen our forces respond. Today also there was controlled firing and small arms were used. We will probe the incident and both the DGMOs would discuss it.”
On the prospective spillover from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the international force in June this year, General Singh said he was hopeful that the strengthening of the Afghan National Army would check this. However, he added, “there are already some signages of some spillover in Jammu and Kashmir.”