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Rawat’s ‘Dirty War’ Remark Sparks Debate: What the Editorials Say

This is what the editorials of newspapers had to say on General Rawat’s “dirty proxy war” comment.

Published
India
4 min read
Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

The Indian Army is facing a “dirty war” in Jammu and Kashmir which has to be fought through “innovative” ways, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has said, stoutly defending the use of a Kashmiri as a human shield by a young officer.

In an interaction with PTI, Rawat said the main objective of awarding Major Leetul Gogoi, when a Court of Inquiry was finalising its probe into the incident, was to boost the morale of young officers of the force who are operating in a very difficult environment in the militancy-infested state.

This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war...That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovations... In fact, I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do).

This is what the editorials in national dailies had to say about the Army Chief’s comments.

‘He Cannot Sound Like an Angry Retired Prime Time Warrior’: Indian Express

“General Rawat risks hurting the enormous institutional credibility of the force that he heads,” is how Indian Express saw the comments made by the Army Chief.

It views the Chief’s “ill-judged statements” as sending themessage that “the Army is fighting the people of Kashmir.” Highlighting the stellar work done by the Army, it states that the institution needs to realise its responsibilities and constraints.

(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/The Quint)
General Rawat is understandably concerned about the difficult challenges that confront his men in Kashmir. But can he afford to lose sight of a fundamental distinction – between armed militants and civilian protesters? By not acknowledging or respecting the difference between the two, or suggesting that there is none, General Rawat could be accused of potentially redefining the army’s role and mandate in troubling ways, which could end up reducing the political space for manoeuvre in the Valley.
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‘Kashmir Needs a Response of the Kind Rawat Has Promised’: The Pioneer

The Army Chief’s brazen statement, rather than a more measured, politically correct one, is attributed to his no-nonsense persona by The Pioneer.

It goes on to say that “establishing an Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir” is the agenda of the stone-pelters and they need “not be met with a healing touch but with the kind of response the Army Chief has promised.”

(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/The Quint)
Critics of the Army Major’s action and of remarks by the Army chief have not the slightest understanding or experience of the conditions on the ground, and yet they are ready at the drop of a hat to express their opinion.
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‘Army Chief Talking Like a Politician’: Hindustan Times

While General Rawat’s statement was meant to uphold the prestige of the Army and show the Kashmir situation in a better light, it has done exactly the opposite, Hindustan Times wrote.

With the political leadership of the country shirking the responsibility of Kashmir, it comes as no surprise that “the country’s top soldier has begun talking like a politician”.

(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/The Quint)
As a soldier’s soldier, Gen Rawat knows that his men daily demonstrate that there are ways to tackle stone-pelters without violating human rights. To defend the one soldier who does is to tell the thousands of others that their noble restraint is unnecessary.
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‘Army Is a Close-Knit Family With Rawat Looking After Their Well-Being’: DNA

While others opined that the Army Chief is getting extremely emboldened in his position in a space where political leadership is not doing its part, Dwaipayan Bose in his DNA article backed Rawat, saying he is only looking out for and saving his troops.

Seeing the Chief as the patriarch of a family – one that cares for it – they asked if that shouldn’t be reason enough for people to leave him be.

(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/The Quint)
The basic human instinct for self-defence and defence of one’s kith & kin. The real army, unlike the ‘army’ of Lutyens Delhi intellectuals, is a closely knit family wherein the head of the family is responsible for the lives and well-being of other members.
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‘Rawat’s Response Marks a Significant Shift in the Army’s Approach’: ET

General Rawat has “broken away from the established norm” by commending and honouring Major Gogoi’s action in public instead of doing so in private, thus marking a “a significant shift in the army’s approach in Kashmir”, writes Pranab Dhal Samanta for the Economic Times.

(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Infographic: Rupinder Kaur/The Quint)
Most chiefs, like Rawat, would also probably stand by the officer because such seemingly appalling methods are not unusual in the army as long as the larger mission – in this case, the safe exit of polling staff – is accomplished... The top brass may commend the officer in private while maintaining a public posture of inquiring into the matter. Rawat broke away from this established norm to institutionally back and honour Gogoi in public. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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