New Delhi: Amid worries about the trend of young men opting arms in Kashmir, Army Chief Bipin Rawat has sent out a strong message – “You can’t fight the army, azaadi (freedom) will never happen.” In an interview to the Indian Express newspaper, General Bipin Rawat said young men in Kashmir shouldn’t “get carried away unnecessarily” and should understand that the army will always fight those who want to secede.
“I want to tell Kashmiri youth that Azaadi isn’t possible. It won’t happen. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek Azaadi, those who want to secede. (Azaadi) is not going to happen, never,” said the army chief.
“I know that the youth are angry. But attacking security forces, throwing stones at us isn’t the way.”
General Rawat expressed concern that young men were being “misled” and taken down the path of guns and violence.
The comments come days after a Kashmiri professor Mohammad Rafi Bhat was killed in an operation two days after he joined the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
On Sunday, militant Saddam Padder became the last to be killed in the viral photo of 11 Hizbul Mujahideen militants including Burhan Wani at an apple orchard, which came to symbolize the rise in home-grown militancy.
“There are fresh recruitments happening. I only want to stress that all this is futile, nothing is going to be achieved by them,” he said, adding that the “number of militants killed in encounters with the army don’t matter to me because I know this cycle will continue”.
It was not like the army “enjoyed it” either, said the army chief. “But if you want to fight us, then we will fight you with all our force. Kashmiris have to understand that the 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 told the newspaper.