I know what is happening in the Court of Inquiry. It is being finalised. What do we punish him for. Armed forces have the right of self defence and Major Gogoi could have opted for firing at the
crowd but he chose not to resort to it — General Bipin Rawat

New Delhi : Army Chief Bipin Rawat’s remarks defending the use of human shield in Kashmir evoked on Monday strong reaction from opposition parties but a CPI-M MP drew flak for doubting the “capability” of the General.

Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, however, defended Rawat and said he “totally agreed” with his statements and that the army should take any possible action as is the demand of the situation.

The opposition parties criticized the Army Chief’s statement that his men were fighting a “dirty war” which needed “innovative methods” to combat it. They said he should refrain from making political statements on internal matters.

Defending Major Leetul Gogoi for using a Kashmiri youth as human shield from stone-pelters, Rawat said India was fighting a “dirty proxy war” in Kashmir which is played in a “dirty way”.

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said it was “unfortunate” that the Army Chief had become a subject matter of a political controversy.

“Why is the army chief talking about the Kashmir situation,” Raja told IANS. “It is not a law and order or a security issue; it is not an issue where the army can find a solution.

“The other day, Rajnath Singh admitted that Kashmir is ours and Kashmiris are ours. It is for the political leadership to address the Kashmir situation,” he added.

About Rawat’s remarks, CPI-M leader Mohammed Salim said it was not the “voice” of the Indian Army which he had been hearing since his childhood. “This is not the voice which we can defend as Indians,” Salim said.

But Salim himself came under attack when he said that if the Indian Army chief had termed the use of human shield as innovative, then “his capacity and understanding of the Indian society and his definition of innovativeness were questionable”.

Janata Dal-United leader K.C. Tyagi said he disagreed with Mohammed Salim’s views. But he also asked General Rawat to “refrain from making political statements on internal matters”.

He said that while it was fine if the army did not engage with separatist organisations like the Hurriyat, it should not shy away from establishing a dialogue with the people of Kashmir.

“His (Rawat’s) statements may be challenging to the Hurriat, the ISIS or the infiltrators, but they should not seem to be challenging the people of Kashmir,” he told IANS.

Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said the “Kashmir problem” could not be seen “singularly from the prism of law and order” but required continuous dialogue and a “human touch” with the disconnected youth.

“When young students in their teenage years become stone-pelters, then the problem is much larger than branding them as potential threats.

“Ultimately we need to recognise that they are the citizens of India and they have a right to be heard. And it is the responsibility of both state and central governments to ensure that it happens,” Jha told IANS.

Coming to the defence of General Rawat, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said: “I totally agree with the Indian Army chief’s statement that the dirty war in Jammu and Kashmir calls for innovation.

“To improve the situation in Kashmir, one should take any action that is needed as per the demand of the situation. That is what the Army chief said and I support him,” he added.

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