Azadi Not Possible, You Can’t Fight Us: Army Chief

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New Delhi: Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawawt said that security forces ‘don’t enjoy’ killing but if anyone wants to ‘fight us then we will fight you with all our force’.

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”.

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 said on Thursday.

“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 — look at Syria and Pakistan. They use tanks and air power in similar situations. 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.

“Somebody was feeding this to people, telling them Azadi was around the corner. Our posts were being regularly attacked. Stones were being pelted at our men … We had to bring the situation under control. We couldn’t afford all that. We needed to tell people Azadi isn’t happening. We had to establish the writ (of the state)”.

“(The Burhan Wani encounter) wasn’t the first such encounter in Kashmir … I am still trying to understand where did all that anger come from. The youth have gotten themselves in Pakistan’s trap. They are being consistently incited to attack us,’’ he said.

Gen Rawat said he understands that “there isn’t a military solution to this issue” and wants politicians and political representatives to talk to people, especially in south Kashmir.

“But they are scared that they will be attacked. It will happen once there is calm. And we are hopeful that people will soon realise that all this is futile and start thinking differently,” he said.

He added that youngsters, who have picked up guns, and terrorists aren’t a big challenge for the army and that the army has repeatedly asked people not to come to disrupt their operations and throw stones at security personnel.

Gen Rawat said that the people in Kashmir must understand the turmoil is taking a toll on the development of the state and that tourism has been adversely affected.

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