Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat on Thursday said that the use of a “human shield’ by officers of the Army is not the norm, but that individual officers can make a decision based on the circumstances, IANS reported.
“It [human shield] is not the norm. As a practice it is not supported. But situations would dictate. Under the circumstances Major Leetul Gogoi took a decision independently,” said Rawat. He added that Gogoi could not have “looked back” and waited for orders at that point and that he took action “in his own wisdom”. “If somebody has any other ideas as to how to tackle such a situation, then he can pass it on to us. We will take a look at it,” he said.
The Army Chief was referring to a video that had gone viral on social media in April, which showed a Kashmiri youth, Farooq Dar, tied to the front of an Army jeep in Kashmir, and purportedly used as a “human shield” against stone pelters.
Rawat, while dismissing suggestions that the Army is trigger-happy, also emphasised on Thursday that the situation in Kashmir needs to be brought in control for any meaningful dialogue to take place with stakeholders. However, he maintained that the situation in the Valley was not as bad as was being portrayed in the media, and dismissed perceptions that people of the state were against the Army. He asserted that the ordinary people of Kashmir suffer because of continued violence, and that students were also affected as schools and colleges remained shut.
The Army Chief also stated that he was unperturbed by his comparison to General Dyer by academician Partha Chatterjee, said reports.
Rawat also claimed that there was nothing wrong with killing Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Instead, he alleged that “someone is instigating people behind the scenes”. On criticism that he merely reflected the Narendra Modi government’s views, Rawat said in a democracy the Army has to work under an elected government. He also claimed that the government had given the Army a free hand in executing its directions.
Earlier on Thursday, Rawat in an interview with ANI said that the Indian armed forces are ready for a “two-and-a-half front” war. The “two-and-a-half fronts” refer to Pakistan, China and internal security threats.