In Kashmir, the army faces attack from multiple corners. While Pakistan backed terrorists launch direct attack against army camps and assets, these terrorists receive cover from locals. Army usually doesn’t deal with these locals, who are tackled by state police or the CRPF. The clashes between these locals and police forces have often turned violent and last year saw a spate of deaths due to violent clashes.
However, when such locals deliberately try to confront the Army and sabotage their operations, the Army can’t be expected to remain mute spectators. The Army can’t wait for police forces to arrive, as the terrorists can escape under this cover.
Take a look at this video below that shows how some locals actively try to halt Army operations, with Army not taking any action against them:
— Angshumaan (@angshumaan13) February 14, 2017
Yesterday, while paying homage to martyrs of Bandipora, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat hinted that he had enough of locals trying to provide cover to terrorists. He claimed that this local support was among the reasons for higher casualties to the security forces in recent times.
Gen Rawat reiterated that Army wanted people-friendly operations, but warned that if some civilians chose to actively assist the terrorists or become a hindrance to the army, the army will treat them as anti-national elements and go after them.
Locals who continue with terror by displaying flags of ISIS, Pak, then we will not spare them: Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat pic.twitter.com/LlO4fntvvC
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) February 15, 2017
From the video, it can be seen that General Rawat did not tar entire Kashmiri youth as anti-national; he was very particular about those who pick stones and guns against the army. His exacts words, which you can hear in the video above, were:
We would now request the local population that people who have picked up arms, and they are the local boys, if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them. They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue.
However, his statement was claimed to be one that will alienate the Kashmiri youth and anger the locals.
The most unfortunate part was that even the Congress, the oldest national party of India, chose to twist Army Chief’s statement. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed that the Army Chief was threatening “kids” of Kashmir:
Ye kehna ki hum Kashmir ke bachhon ko pakad ke karenge, isey desh ke log pasand nahi karenge; ye bohot zyaddti hogi: GN Azad on Army chief pic.twitter.com/SkYPVEwO7T
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 16, 2017
Following such distortions, Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad had to appeal to the Congress to keep the Army and the Army Chief outside of politics.
But while politicians are expected to play politics, many in the media too chose to toe the same line and twist Gen Rawat’s statement. Take for example this article published on DailyO, a website owned by India Today group. First it tries to insinuate that Gen Rawat was “favoured” and got something that he didn’t deserve::
It’s both unfortunate but not unexpected that General Bipin Rawat sounded exactly like the establishment in the Centre that picked him as the chief of Army staff, superseding not one but two of his then seniors, particularly Lt-Gen Praveen Bakshi.
The article further adds:
The less said of Modi government’s Kashmir policy, the better. Not only did the regime completely mishandle the uprising in the Valley in the wake of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani’s death, allowing pellet guns to be fired at agitators and blinding, maiming hundreds of protesters, while fatally shooting at least 120 of them during a three-month lock down, it has persistently and systematically alienated the ordinary Kashmiri, particularly the Kashmiri Muslim with its myopic and Hindutva-laced stance on the conflict-torn state.
Yes, a statement by an Army Chief worried about losses of lives of his jawans was twisted, manipulated, and stitched with tags of Modi, Hindutva, Muslims, and everything the writer could conjure up.
As we had pointed out in an article earlier, this obsession to link Indian Army with “Hindutva” is very dangerous and pernicious, and all it helps is in building a narrative for second partition of India. You can read the article by clicking here.
Perhaps those who are lecturing the Army Chief to choose words more carefully should exercise the same caution themselves, unless of course these words are chosen carefully to achieve the objective that Pakistan aims to achieve by using the Indian media.