Kashmir youth being coerced to stone pelting: Army chief

‘Pelters should fall in some category of terrorists’

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Dec 16: Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said today that the Kashmiri youth are being forced into stone pelting either due to fear of terrorism or lured by money and asserted that the youth carrying stones should fall into some category of terrorism even though law doesn’t accept stone as a weapon.
In an interview to a national news channel, Gen Rawat said: “a youth who carries stone in his hands is not really a terrorist but supporting terrorism should come in some category of terrorists. All people who disrupt operations are part of terrorist organizations and we have to deal with those, who have stone in their hands”.
Asserting that stone is as good a weapon as rifle, he said the civilians and security force personnel are being killed with stones and, therefore, “we have asked the Army jawans to use weapon against stone pelters but only injure them”.
Gen Rawat said the Kashmiri youth are being pushed into stone pelting.
“Some of them are being lured by money. Others were being pressurized that the militants will knock their doors in the night if they don’t pick up the stones. A fear is being generated among the youth (to pick up stones),” he asserted.

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Admitting that the Army is in dilemma as far as tackling stone pelters is concerned, the Army chief said the troops can’t throw stones and they don’t have the weapons used for maintenance of law and order. “We, therefore, use minimum possible force against them”.
Gen Rawat said when the Kashmiri youth are taken to different parts of the country, they feel new kind of environment and are mesmerized but they don’t want to be photographed or their voice recorded.
“They (the youth) are threatened in Kashmir. Their voice is suppressed. They are told that there is Kashmir-like situation in the entire country but when they see peace, they see everything alright, they feel the difference,” Gen Rawat said.
Asserting that Pakistan army has chosen wrong enemy in India, he said terrorist leadership has been openly operating in Pakistan.
“This has also been confirmed by the United States. It is virtually army, which owns Pakistan and to stay in power, they need enemy. They have chosen India as enemy and they have chosen wrong enemy,” he said.
Gen Rawat said Pakistan continued to send terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir and incite the people in the Valley.
“We have evidence that terrorist camps are active in Pakistan. They (the Pakistan army) train terrorists, feed terrorists and give them targets in Kashmir,” he said but added that when Pakistani terrorists are killed on the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistan refuses to recognize them and take their bodies.
Referring to Kashmir situation, the Army chief said whenever there is escalation in terrorism or violence; security forces take action and bring the level of violence down by eliminating leadership of the terrorists.
“When peace comes, the Administration should start functioning but Army has to dominate the positions because if it doesn’t do that, the militants will regroup and reorganize themselves,” the General said.
On recent remarks by former Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda that surgical strikes shouldn’t have been politicized or over-hyped, the Army chief said he (Gen Hooda) was the Commander, who planned and executed the surgical strikes.
“Full credit goes to him. But the statement was his personal and made in personal capacity. Surgical strikes are conducted by specially trained people, who take great risk. They should be given full recognition,” Gen Rawat said.
He said some people say the surgical strikes were conducted earlier also.
“Those who conducted the strikes were lost in oblivion, They remained the unsung heroes. They should be remembered or not, I leave it to you to judge,” he told the interviewer.
Asked which of the two countries-China or Pakistan is the bigger threat, Gen Rawat said: “the threat is when you are week. Under no circumstances, armed forces should be allowed to weaken”.