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There should be ‘no dilution’ in the AFSPA in J & K: Army Chief

Bikram Singh

Stating for the ‘no-dilution’ of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the prevailing situation in the region, Army Chief General Bikram Singh indicated possible terrorist spillover into the Valley after US drawdown in Afghanistan

Bikram SinghNew Delhi: Stating for the ‘no-dilution’ of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the prevailing situation in the region, Army Chief General Bikram Singh indicated possible terrorist spillover into the Valley after US drawdown in Afghanistan.

He said, “We need to look at developments in Afghanistan in 2014 before we can look at perhaps tampering with or diluting the disturbed areas (act). This is in regard to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Gen Singh said that it would be prudent to “wait and watch for a while” before taking a call on AFSPA.

 “As per military’s perspective, (in view of) the situation prevailing in the Valley, I think we should wait for a while to see whether the situation remains the same, worsens or improves. Based on that we should take action,” the Army chief said.

In a word of caution, he said that perhaps there might be a certain amount of spillover from Afghanistan into Jammu and Kashmir.

“There are certain inputs alluding to this already. And, therefore, we need to be on guard,” he said at a press conference on the eve of the Army Day on January 15.

Asked about the statement of Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan that AFSPA should be lifted from Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Singh said as a matter of principle, “I never comment on statements of political leaders….Our national perspective is that it is our country, Jammu and Kashmir is our state and nobody should have any doubts about it.”

He further said, “We are implementing the national strategy and the army is playing its role as part of that.”

Earlier Bhushan has batted for the lifting of AFSPA, saying that it gave the army immunity in cases of human rights violation while causing alienation amongst the people. APP has dissociated itself from his remarks.

India won’t sit quietly if Pakistan breaks rules: Army Chief

 In a warning to Pakistan, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh today said India will respond in equal measure if Pakistan breaks any rules as he revealed that 10 Pakistani soldiers had been killed in a recent military action.

He rejected the perception that Indian military has not retaliated against the beheading of its soldiers by Pakistani troops last year.

“Let me assure you that action has been taken… If I can invite the attention to the Geo TV report on December 23 which talked of their one officer and nine jawans being killed with 12-13 being wounded. This has happened due to firing of your soldiers on ground. They have done their bit,” he said addressing the annual Army Day press conference here.

Gen Singh said it is virtually a “mini war at the local level” whenever ceasefire violation takes place on the LoC.

“The soldiers are doing a stupendous job. The local units are doing a good job. The soldiers have reacted well and they have reacted well as required,” he asserted.

When referred to the repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC, the Army Chief said, “It depends, if rules are followed by our neighbours, we follow the rules. If rules are broken, then obviously we cannot stick to the rules. Even we are going to break the rules.”

At the same time, he said that through retaliation, the “endeavour is not to escalate the situation into operational or strategic arena. It is to deal with the same measure if not more and give a befitting response in a professional manner at place where we are fired upon.”

Gen Singh was asked about to comment on the notion among common people that though he had promised retaliation after the beheading of its soldiers in Mendhar sector, no action has so far been taken.

Last year on January 8, one Indian soldier was beheaded by Pakistan Army troops in a cross-border assault after which Gen Singh had said that the Indian Army reserves the right to retaliate at the time and place of its choice.

Elaborating on this statement, Gen Singh said he wanted to give the “freedom of action to local commanders to deal with the situation accordingly as they deemed appropriate.”

Commenting on today’s ceasefire violation, he said he has asked the Director General (Military Operations) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia to look into the matter and talk to his Pakistani counterpart on the issue.

He said the particular violation in Poonch area today started after Indian troops detected movement of three terrorists trying to infiltrate into Indian side. “We will give them a befitting reply if infiltration is attempted.”

The chief said this was first incident of ceasefire violation after October 27 when the DGMOs of the two countries talked to each other and it will be taken up with Pakistan side.

On a mysterious video purportedly showing the head of Lance Naik Hemraj, who was beheaded by Pakistan Army last year, he said the force was verifying the authenticity of the footage and if it is correct, then it would be taken up at appropriate level.

He criticised the media for showing the video saying the soldiers should be portrayed only as heroes.

On the 2010 encounter of Machhil in Kashmir, he said the legal procedures have brought out charges against two officers and jawans and they are facing the summary General Court Martial.

He said the action taken by the Army in the Machhil case will send out a strong message in the service against staging fake encounters in future and it has reiterated the Do’s and Don’ts and ten commandments of the Chief of Army Staff on human rights issue.

“There is a zero tolerance policy towards human rights violations and this shows our commitment in this direction. We have the utmost respect for the law of the land and we will uphold it,” Gen Singh said.

He refused to comment on the proceedings in the Pathribal case saying the matter was sub-judice and it was not appropriate for him to comment on it.


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