In an interview with the Press Trust Of India on Sunday, Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat has said that he can’t order his men to wait and die while people in Kashmir hurl stones and petrol bombs at them, defending Major Leetul Gogoi, who tied an alleged stone-pelter to an army jeep and was recently awarded a commendation medal for his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations.
"People are throwing stones at us, people are throwing petrol bombs at us. If my men ask me what do we do, should I say, just wait and die? Is it what I am supposed to tell them as chief?,” General Rawat was quoted by PTI as saying.
Talking about how the Army plans to deal with stone-pelters and unruly mobsters, he said it would be easier for the armed forces to respond if they were firing weapons at the forces instead of throwing stones at them.
“In fact, I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do)," he said.
Talking about the situation in Kashmir, he said the Army is fighting a dirty proxy war with utmost restraint, adding that it was his duty to lift the morale of Army personnel in the Valley and he did it by awarding Major Gogoi for his effort.
"As Army Chief my concern is morale of the Army. That is my job. I am far away from the battle field. I cannot influence the situation there. I can only tell the boys that I am with you. I always tell my people, things will go wrong, but if things have gone wrong and you did not have malafide intent, I am there," he said.
Saying that the Army cannot run away from its role to provide security, Rawat said, "Tomorrow elections have to be held in Anantnag and similar things may happen. If the army does not respond to call for assistance, then the trust between the people whom we are protecting, police and army will break."
He said the Army is a friendly force and is practising maximum restraint to deal with the situation, noting that the force can only do its job if the adversary fears it.
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