NEW DELHI - Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat has said the youth in Kashmir must not get “carried away unnecessarily” and understand “azadi” is not possible as the security forces will always fight those who want to secede, the *Indian Express <link>* said on Thursday.
Gen Rawat told the Indian Express in an interview that he was concerned that the youth in the strife-torn state are picking up guns and “those who tell them (that) this path will bring azadi … misleading them”.
“These numbers (of militants who are killed in gunbattles with the army) don’t matter to me because I know this cycle will continue. There are fresh recruitments happening. I only want to stress that all this is futile, nothing is going to be achieved by them. You can’t fight the army,” Gen Rawat said.
He added that the security forces “don’t enjoy” killing but if anyone wants to “fight us then we will fight you with all our force”.
“Kashmiris have to understand that the SFs (security forces) haven’t been so brutal — Our troops have been trying their level best to avoid any civilian casualty despite huge provocation,’’ he said.
“I know that the youth are angry. But attacking security forces, throwing stones at us isn’t the way,” he said.
He also expressed concern over people flocking to sites of gunbattles and “inciting security forces by pelting stones at them to disrupt the operations … They are inciting security forces to become more aggressive.’’
“I don’t understand why people are coming out in huge numbers to disrupt our operations. Who is inciting them? If they want that the militants aren’t killed, they should go and tell them to come out without their weapons so that nobody is killed ... We will halt our operation. We can’t allow people to disrupt our operations and help terrorists to flee,” he told the Indian Express.
The general said the army, which has been criticised for using extreme force in the state, “did try a soft approach too” and pointed out to the violence in 2016 after Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with security forces.
“... Until June 2016, everything was fine. What is that incited people so much because of that one encounter? Everything was turned upside down in a few days’ time. The entire South Kashmir was out in the streets, throwing stones at us, attacking our posts,” he said.