On February 15, 2017, Army Chief Bipin Rawat warned harsher measures against stone pelters and all those who created obstructions in anti-terrorist operations. General Rawat further said that such individuals would be treated as accomplices to terrorists and would be treated according to severity of their actions. This extreme reaction came from the army chief after a day of heavy stone pelting faced by 3 soldiers in Bandipore as they were about o launch an operation against militants hiding in the region. This gave the militants an opportunities to fire first as they launched hand grenades and started shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 3 jawans and a few others. Earlier a few other soldiers had also lost their lives in separate operations in Handwara, Bandipore and Kulgam. General Bipin Rawat was of the belief that the security forces in the region faced higher casualties due the the obstructions by the locals, who at times also “supported the terrorists to escape”.
General Rawat’s words were harsh and make no mistake, so will be the army’s actions. And as cruel as it may sound, especially coming on the backdrop of pellet victims and other alleged atrocities, his words are necessary. Ideally, the matter should be solved by politicians and diplomats of the country. The brave leaders who rise to power on the ladder of promises should be the one to handle the issue of “anti-nationalist” sentiments among the youth. It can still be acceptable to hold a Pakistani flag and praise the neighbour or empathise and sympathise with them. But one should not do is hold an ISIS flag. ISIS is a terror organisation and marching with weapons under its banner makes you one of them; a terrorist. And all forms of terrorism must be eliminated. Maybe radical Islam has started to grow roots in the region. But such problems could be solved with diplomacy, with education, with interaction with people at a young age.
Maybe General Rawat’s words were too harsh. Maybe he should have been more sympathetic to the plight of Kashmiris. But then again, would you, if you lost 6 brothers to idiots looking for cheap thrills? Or maybe these youth had other serious reasons, which makes it even worse. The fact of the matter is, Kashmir is a conflicted region. Clashes between the army and the people of the valley are common. Blood has been shed. More on the side of the people of the valley and that has arguably set them on a stained path. But that is not the job of a soldier. Ideally, we should not have a borders or soldiers. We are one species and should live as so. But the fact of the matter is that we live in a world with walls and those walls have to guarded by men with guns. Now, if one lives close to that walls, then there are bound to be consequences. But stopping these men on these walls from protecting you from what’s outside is stupid; it is reckless. Every man or woman or child has the right to dissent. And surely General Rawat did not mean to shoot anyone who dissents or questions the army’s methods. While the media has blown it out of proportion, it must be remembered that you cannot expect live under the blanket of protection soldiers provide and keep digging holes in it. It doesn’t work both ways.