In a stern warning to the Kashmiri youth who have been misled by the dictum of 'picking up the gun' to bring 'azadi' in the Kashmir valley, Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that the youth must not be carried away unnecessarily and understand that 'azadi' is not possible as they cannot fight the security forces in the valley.
In an interview to The Indian Express, General Rawat said, "I want to tell Kashmiri youth that Azadi isn't possible. It won't happen. Don't get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek Azadi, those who want to secede. Azadi is not going to happen, never."
On the number of militants being killed in the gunfights he said; "These numbers 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."
Adding that he is perturbed by the killings, General Rawat said; "We don't enjoy it. 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".
The Army chief said that he is willing to suspend military operations but expressed apprehensions over the safety of the security personnel in the Kashmir Valley. "But who will guarantee that there won't be fire at our men, at our vehicles? Who will guarantee that policemen, political workers, our men returning home on leave aren't attacked, aren't killed?," he asked.
General Rawat has stressed that military is not a solution to this issue. “There isn’t a military solution to this issue. This is why we want politicians, political representatives to go into villages especially in South Kashmir to talk to people. But they are scared that they will be attacked,’’ he said. “It will happen once there is calm. And we are hopeful that people will soon realize that all this is futile and start thinking differently."
Kashmir continues to be on the edge since July 8, 2016 when Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the Indian security forces. Widespread protests erupted in the Kashmir valley after Wani's death, resulting in massive turmoil and unrest.