Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Bipin Rawat on Friday asserted that concerns of superseded Eastern Army Commander Praveen Bakshi would be looked into if they were brought to his attention even as he promised a “suggestion and grievance” system to enable soldiers to reach him directly.
Gen. Rawat’s comments came after a jawan took to social media to air his grievances with Army’s sahayak system.
In his first formal interaction with the press after taking over as Army Chief, he said: “We will have COAS grievance and redressal boxes at the Army headquarters and subsequently in all formations.” He said everyone, irrespective of their rank and file, could put their concerns in a sealed cover and drop them in the boxes. “We will ensure that the names are not disclosed,” he said, explaining that the identity of the solider making the complaint would be protected while the case is being investigated and the name will be deleted later to prevent retributive action.
Terming social media a “two-sided weapon” which sometimes had a “detrimental effect,” Gen. Rawat observed, “We prefer that they [personnel] communicate directly rather than through the social media.”
He strongly defended the sahayak system in the army saying that it was an important and was a personal system between the officer and jawan.
Will investigate concerns
Responding to questions on comments made by Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi that there was a conspiracy to prevent him from becoming Army Chief, Gen Rawat said if he [Lt. Gen. Bakshi] puts forward his concerns they would be looked into.
“We have reached out to each other... If there is anything that needs to be investigated, if it is brought to my notice, we will look into it,” Gen. Rawat stated. He added, “Lt Gen Bakshi has been supportive of me and I will be supportive of him.”
Addressing officers of the Eastern Command in Kolkata on December 31, Lt. Gen. Bakshi had said there “has been a malicious campaign to smear my name” to prevent him from becoming the Army Chief. “I am not going to resign because I want to get to the bottom of this and who is behind it,” he said. An audio recording of his speech was made public by a private TV channel.
Need pre-1989 status in Kashmir
Blaming Pakistan for disturbing disputing the secular fabric of the country through continued proxy war, Gen. Rawat said the Army was willing to go the extra mile “beyond their mandate” to ensure safety of people and their properties.
“We should see that Jammu & Kashmir reverses to pre-1989 with everyone there living in harmony,” he observed.
To ensure peace and tranquillity on the border, Gen. Rawat said, “We are making this offer of peace to the adversary.” If Pakistan reciprocates in the same manner and accepts it, then the “necessity to conduct surgical strikes should not arise,” he said.
“But if the offer of peace and tranquillity is not reciprocated in an appropriate manner… then this method of execution of operations (surgical strikes) will continue,” Gen Rawat cautioned.
On the much talked of “cold start” doctrine, he said the Army is mandated to preserve territorial integrity and not all tasks under it can be defensive. As future wars will be short and intense they [the forces] have to act fast. “You can term it whatever way you want,” he stated without calling it a “cold start”.