Homosexuality and adultery will not be allowed in the Army despite the changes in the country’s laws, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday, NDTV reported.
“We will not allow this to happen in the Army,” Rawat said at an annual press briefing in New Delhi. while addressing his annual press conference. “We are not above the country’s law but when you join the Indian Army, some of the rights and privileges you enjoy are not what we have. Some things are different for us.”
Matters related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community would be dealt with under the Army Act, which currently does not have provisions to deal with homosexuality, he said, according to ANI.
Last year, the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexual activity between consenting adults, which was punishable by up to 10 years in jail according to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Supreme Court also decriminalised adultery last year. But it is still considered an offence within the armed forces, Rawat said. The Indian Army is “conservative” and the “soldier on the border cannot be worried about his family back home”, he added.
Rawat also said talks with the Taliban were necessary to protect Indian interests in Afghanistan. “If a number of countries are talking to the Taliban, and if India has an interest in Afghanistan, then we should also join the bandwagon,” he added. Rawat had expressed similar views on Wednesday.
The Army chief added that 300 militants were “waiting” to cross the Line of Control into India.
While the Army does not target civilians intentionally, Rawat said it was sometimes difficult to differentiate between militants and civilians in Jammu and Kashmir, ANI reported.
“The situation in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be brought under better control,” he added. “We are adopting hard power and soft power approaches. But there is an offer to terrorists to appear overground. Who is getting affected by this [militancy]? The people of Kashmir themselves.”
The Army chief said separatist groups in Kashmir must shun violence before talks are possible. “Our position is very clear – that shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour [Pakistan],” he added.
Rawat told reporters that the Northern Command will acquire new sniper rifles on January 20.
He also spoke about the usage of social media in the Army and said that while it cannot be completely banned, soldiers have been advised about how to use it, according to India Today. “We have taught our men that how the social media is being used by our adversary to trap us,” Rawat said. “So don’t get trapped by social media. Let me tell you that a lot of people have been honey trapped.”