Kashmir can be better than Delhi if terror, pelting end: Army chief

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, June 29: Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said today that Kashmir can become New Delhi or even better than that if the youths there shun terrorism and stone pelting and work towards development of the State.
Inter-acting with students of Baramulla district and surrounding areas of Kashmir valley at his South Block office in New Delhi, who were on National Integration tour sponsored by 19 Infantry Brigade, Gen Rawat told the students that whatever you see in New Delhi, the capital of the country, can also be in the Kashmir if terrorism and stone pelting incidents are stopped by the misguided youth.
“You can see how peaceful New Delhi is. Kashmir can also become New Delhi or even better than that if youth shun terrorism and stone pelting incidents and join the nation in developmental agenda,” the Army chief said and told the students and youth from the Kashmir valley that there are no Army bunkers or searches in Delhi because there is no atmosphere of terror.
Gen Rawat said the youths of Kashmir and their parents can help create terror-free atmosphere in the Valley. He hoped that the Kashmiri students would give a message of peace to their brethren on returning to their homes. He lauded the Army for organizing such tours for Kashmiri students.
Gen Rawat said Army was operating with “people-friendly” rules of engagement in the Valley.
“Our basic purpose is to go after terrorists who create violence and disturbance in the Valley. Our aim is not to cause inconvenience to civilian population, who are not indulging in arson or violence,” he said on the sidelines of the function in the Union capital.
“There is nothing like stepping up… Army continues to operate with the formulated rules of engagement,” Rawat said when asked whether security has been stepped up in the Valley after the fall of the Government.
Jammu and Kashmir was placed under Governor’s rule on June 19, the fourth time in the last one decade, after the BJP withdrew support to its alliance partner PDP forcing Mehbooba Mufti to resign as the Chief Minister of the State.
The Army chief said in addition to the “stringent” rules of engagement, local Formation Commanders of the Army continuously give guidelines to soldiers as how to operate.
“Our rules of engagement are very people-friendly and we conduct operations in a very people-friendly manner. And, motivated reports that Indian Army is carrying out brutal operations in Kashmir are not true,” he said.
Gen Rawat had earlier dismissed the recent UN report on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir as “motivated” and asserted that Indian Army’s record in this regard was “absolutely above board”.
Gen Rawat has twice visited Kashmir after imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir on June 19 and suspension of conditional ceasefire after the completion of month of Ramzan to review security situation and launch coordinated operations to eliminate the militants to bring the level of violence down, which had gone up at the fag end of the ceasefire due to broad day-light killing of Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari and his two Personal Security Officers (PSOs) and Army soldier Aurangzeb of Salani, Mendhar in the Valley when he was on way to his home for Eid celebrations.