Need to undo false propaganda driving youth to militancy: Army chief

NEW DELHI
5 Jan 2017

Plans are on the anvil to bring in a shift in the counter-insurgency strategy in Kashmir in which "false" propaganda inspiring youth to take up arms will be targeted rather than individuals alone, says new Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat. He is also concerned at the rising number of Kashmiri youth joining militancy. Gen Rawat, who has experience in handling the Kashmir militancy, said that unlike naxalism in which locals are joining due to feeling of deprivation, it is not the case in Kashmir which has been under the siege from Pakistan-backed insurgency since late 1980s. In an interview to PTI, he emphasised that the "false propaganda" and developments in the Middle East has affected some of the local youth and that is why one finds "more and more educated youth" getting driven towards militancy. "When the local youth join insurgency and pick up gun it is a matter of concern because our own countrymen getting involved in insurgency is not a happy situation," Gen Rawat said. Since the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year, 59 local youth have joined militant groups as per official figures though security experts say the figure is much higher. Gen Rawat questioned if the local youth in Kashmir are getting into insurgency because of feeling of deprivation, which he said was happening in other areas. "Is it similar to what is happening with naxalism? It is not. It has something to do with the false propaganda that is being propagated. I think we need to reach out to people. Rather than seeing them as targets, we need to sympathise with them and undo the kind of false propaganda that is being spread among the youth," he said. On his maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir after taking charge, new Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat today visited Udhampur-based Northern Command and reviewed the security situation and operational preparedness of the force. Gen Rawat was received by top army officials and briefed by Commander Lt Gen Devraj Anbu. He flew to 16 Corps headquarters based in Nagrota and is likely to visit some forwards areas in Akhnoor and Rajouri sectors and interact with troops. "The army chief reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and also operational preparedness of Northern Command at a high-level meeting," officials said. Northern command looks after the operational command of Jammu and Kashmir and Line of Control (LoC), Acutual Ground Position Level (AGPL) with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh. Gen Rawat took charge on December 31, succeeding Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service. Gen Rawat was commissioned in the 5th Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations. He commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an infantry division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the eastern theatre and the Southern Command. Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary's Branch at Army headquarters.(PTI)