Talk to interlocutor, don’t expect govt directly, Army chief to Kashmir separatists
“To say that the head of the state will come and talk to these terrorists, I don’t think that is going to happen,” Army chief general Bipin Rawat said.Updated: Nov 12, 2018 17:15 IST
Army chief general Bipin Rawat on Monday said there was little possibility of direct talks between the government and separatists or terrorists in Kashmir, but they could approach the interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, who had been appointed for the purpose.
“To say that the head of the state will come and talk to these terrorists, I don’t think that is going to happen,” Rawat told reporters at Mamun cantonment in Punjab’s Pathankot after a seminar.
“If you look at the government policy, we have got a very clear cut policy — that we will not allow terrorists to create violence in our society and therefore anybody who creates violence will be neutralised,” he said.
“At the same time, an interlocutor has been tasked by the government to speak to various people in the Valley. I don’t understand as to what they are trying to say. Sharma is moving around talking to people. He is saying that I am open to everybody and anybody who wants to speak to me can come to me. Who says talks are not going on?” he asked.
After India said it was sending non-officials to participate in Afghanistan peace talks that also had Taliban representatives, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had asked why the Narendra Modi government couldn’t have a “non-official” dialogue with non-mainstream stakeholders in the troubled state.
When asked about this, the Army chief said, “If separatists don’t want to approach the interlocutor, then I don’t know what further can be hoped”.
“We are doing indirect talks to see we can approach the stakeholders and send a clear message to them. But to say that the head of the state will come and talk to these terrorists, I don’t think that is going to happen,” he said.
On reports of Kashmiri politicians supporting militants and stone-pelting, Rawat said he would not like to comment, but said “anybody disrupting operations of the security forces need to be dealt with sternly”.
“If people do not behave and continue violence, the only element left is to neutralise them,” he said.
On Punjab, he said that the Centre has initiated action against external forces trying to revive insurgency in Punjab.
“CM (Amarinder Singh) is concerned and taking direct action so the violence doesn’t spread again. Outsiders will attempt but the people of Punjab will not let them do it,” he said, adding that India has to be very careful.
Punjab saw one of the worst phases of insurgencies in 1980s during the pro-Khalistan movement, which was eventually quelled by the government.