Srinagar: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday slammed the mainstream opposition parties and the separatists for criticizing the Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, over his recent statement warning the people of Kashmir that they will be dealt as “anti-nationals” and face “harsh” actions unless they desist from creating hurdles during counterinsurgency operations in the restive State.
The party spokesman Khalid Jehangir said here that those who are criticizing the Army Chief’s statement are endorsing militancy and violence. He said in a signed statement, “In any anti-insurgency operation there has to be a red-line and civilians cannot interfere in the operations carried out by the security forces. The Army Chief has asked people to stay away from these sites as it can lead to civilian casualties.”
He added that wherever a counterinsurgency operation starts, the “over ground workers” of militants reach the spot and mobilize the people to pelt stones and stage protests near the encounter site so that militants get a chance to escape.” He alleged that separatists and “Pakistani agents” have turned Kashmir into battlefield and use Kashmiri youth as canon-fodder. “They have been instigating youth during the past 27-years and have been responsible for ruining Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
The BJP spokesman further said that the Army Chief’s statement is clear that whosoever works against national interest would be punished as it (national interest) is supreme. “There is nothing wrong in the Army Chief's statement," he said adding that it was high time to act against those people who have been misleading people in the name of so-called Aazadi.
“On the other hand National Conference and Congress need to put their act together rather than acting likes stooges of separatists,” he concluded.
Gen. Rawat had on Wednesday while speaking to reporters in New Delhi after he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid last respects to the three of the four soldiers including a major who were killed in separate encounters in Kashmir a day earlier said that security forces were facing higher casualties due to manner in which the local population is preventing them in conducting the operations and "at times even supporting the terrorists to escape". He said that such pastime will not be tolerated any more.
However, his statement has been widely criticised by political parties in Kashmir and beyond. The latest to join the chorus is Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and lawmaker Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami who expressed disappointment over the remarks of the Army Chief and said, “At a time when efforts are needed for reaching out to people, such statements are bound to widen the gulf between people of the valley and the rest of the country.”
However, BJP which is a partner in the government in Jammu and Kashmir has slammed these parties for criticising Gen. Rawat over his remarks. Minister of State in the (Indian) Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh accused the Congress and the National Conference of behaving like separatists and said “The same political party, for example like the National Conference, is talking like this which as a part of the UPA was the one which even went to the extent of demanding bombardment of the terror camps in Pakistan.” He alleged, “When they (the Congress and the National Conference) are in power, they swear by India and Kashmir as an integral part of India. The moment they are shunted out of power, they overnight become wiser and question the role of the Army in Jammu and Kashmir”.