Army chief General Bikram Singh on Monday rejected allegations that the Indian Army was not retaliating strongly to the ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
While speaking to the media, he said after Pakistan killed two of our soldiers in Mendhar sector in January and five in August in Poonch, Indian army killed ten of Pakistan soldiers including an officer of the Pakistan army in retaliatory firing. “If our neighbours break rules, we will be constrained to do the same to respond. We won’t sit on it,” Gen Singh said on India’s response to ceasefire violations by Pakistan. However, he maintained that Indian army respects human rights mentioned in the Geneva Convention and reply in a civilised manner.
General Singh said he has given freedom to the local commanders to take appropriate action at their level. “Ceasefire violation is a localised situation and I have directed my local commanders to give them (Pakistan) a befitting reply,” the army chief added.
The army chief has also said the armed forces need to stay in Kashmir “under the present circumstances” and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides immunity to the armed forces, shall not be tampered with. “We should wait for conditions to improve before making changes to the national strategy regarding the army deployment in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“The military viewpoint (on AFSPA) is that we have to wait for some time to monitor the situation. A decision will be taken only after that,” he said.
The J&K government has been demanding withdrawal of the law from certain areas of the state, where the situation has improved. The Act is largely perceived as draconian and demand for its withdrawal has been made by the people northeast states too.
On the issue of human rights violations by the army, General Bikram Singh said there is ‘zero tolerance’ towards human rights violation. “ Our rules of engagement are based on those followed by a civilised society,” he said.
The army chief also claimed that multi-level attempts were underway to thaw tensions in the Indo-China relationship that has come under strain due to frequent incursions by the Chinese army into Ladakh. Difference of perception of LAC has led to constant incursions at the Indo-Pak border. “There has been an improvement in the situation along the LAC (Line of Actual Control).
Attempts are on to ensure the ceasefire agreement is adhered to,” General Singh said.