India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, said Thursday that “girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 are now being radicalised” in Kashmir, and that those who are “completely radicalised” need to be “taken out separately” and put in deradicalisation camps.
Responding to a question at the Raisina Dialogue forum, Rawat said that “radicalisation can be countered” but “first, you get to the nerve of this whole thing, as to who are radicalising people”.
“It is happening from schools, universities, from religious places and sites. There are a group of people who are spreading this,” he said, adding that those who are identified as radicalising others should be isolated “gradually”.
Then, he said, “a counter-radicalisation programme” should be started. “First target those who are completely radicalised, then start also looking at the future,” he said.
Taking the example of Kashmir, Rawat said, “What we are seeing in Kashmir, we saw radicalisation happening. Today, we are seeing radicalisation being undertaken even amongst the young people. Girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 are now being radicalised. These people can still be isolated from radicalisation in a gradual way. But there are people who have completely been radicalised. These people need to be taken out separately, possibly taken into some deradicalisation camps. We’ve got deradicalisation camps going on in our country.”
Rawat claimed that even Pakistan is “doing the same” as it has “understood that some of the terrorism that they have been sponsoring is hitting back at them”.
Referring to the use of pellet guns in the Valley, Rawat said the Army fires at the legs but when people bend to pick up stones to throw, they are injured in the face, which is why “security forces can’t be blamed for the injuries that have been caused by pellet guns”.
On being asked if Army has been “heavy-handed” in Kashmir, Rawat said the Army “had to be heavy handed in the very initial stages, when the proxy wars were launched on us in the early (1990s)” and at “that time we had to use some hard measure,” but not since.
“If we were heavy-handed we won’t be suffering casualties,” he said, while pointing out that three soldiers die for every terrorist killed.
Without naming Pakistan directly, Rawat said that to combat terrorism there needs to a similar approach to what US adopted after the 9/11 attacks.
“We have to bring an end to terrorism and that can only happen the way Americans started after 9/11. They said let’s go on a spree… on a global war on terror, let the nations join together and fight terrorism together… to do that you have to isolate the terrorists… anybody who is sponsoring terrorism has to be taken to task,” Rawat said.
The CDS warned that “you cannot have partners who are partnering with you on the global war on terror and yet sponsoring proxies and terror”.
To deal with Pakistan specifically, Rawat said that “you have to have an international messaging being taken to them, hard action being taken” and mentioned the blacklisting by FATF as “one good measure” and also asked for “diplomatic isolation”. He said it is important to “bring about acceptability in the nation that yes they are sponsors of terrorism” as “denials of terrorism… cannot continue on and on”.
On the peace deal between the US and Taliban, Rawat cautioned that “when you come into negotiation it must ensure lasting peace” and it “must not be a temporary measure to find an exit”.
Regarding the role of the CDS, he said it will be a first among equals, compared to the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force, with “clear and well-defined responsibilities”. The CDS will have “some authority over the three service chiefs other than on operational issues”, he said.
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