In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, Army chief General Bipin Rawat has said that women aren’t put on front-line combat roles as acceptance of a woman commander could be hard for the jawans, most of whom still come from the villages.
Further, if a woman is made a commanding officer, and is not given maternity leave during her command tenure, it would create “ruckus”, General Rawat said, implying that logistics need to be worked out in such instances.
“Suppose I make a woman a commanding officer in an RR battalion. She will be away for around 6 months. In that command tenure, she won’t be given a maternity leave - how can I put that restriction on her?”General Bipin Rawat
The army chief also spoke on politicisation of the Army, the rise of militancy in Kashmir, and India’s friendship with Pakistan.
On being asked if Kashmir was a ‘zero sum game’ for the Indian army, General Rawat said “There is a sine wave for the rise of terrorism in Kashmir. You see escalation, upon which the security forces take action, and the number of terrorists is brought down. Then there is demand for peace and the Army is asked to retreat.”
He, however, added that the Army should not withdraw.
“The army has to continue dominating these areas, else terror regimes will regroup.”General Bipin Rawat
General Rawat’s comments come on a day when seven civilians lost their lives in an attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
On Stone Pelting in Kashmir
General Rawat discredited the sense of alienation and resentment among Kashmiris for the Indian army as a false impression created by the media.
The terrorists are feeding a wrong impression of India to the Kashmiris, he said, adding that the people in the valley live under the fear of terrorists.
“Back home, the Kashmiri youth are told that there is suppression of voice and violence persists across the country. So we try to show them the democratic and peaceful process that reigns here. The terrorists are feeding them with lies - everyone is under the fear of the gun.”
Speaking on the issue of stone-pelting in the valley, Rawat said “The forces lose their calm only when there is a question of an appropriate reaction to the stone-pelters.”
“The question is - how should the army react? We avoid using guns in cases of stone pelting, because we are answerable in the court of law. But in today’s time, a stone is as lethal as a rifle,” he asserted.
He concluded by stating that the army cannot be disrupted in its attempts to bring law and order.
On Surgical Strikes
“I would like to give credit to Gen Hooda’s statement that the surgical strikes were overhyped,” Gen Rawat said.
“We need to understand that surgical strikes are conducted by specially trained people, but many don't recognise this. We need to give these people the recognition they deserve without making a hype of it,” he added.
On Friendship With Pakistan
“In order to start a conversation, we first have to see the positives. Anti-India statements like 'tukde tukde' kar denge are just not acceptable,” Gen Rawat said.
In his opinion, “if they (Pakistan) really want to move forward and make peace, they should better start acting against terror.”
On China Being a ‘Bigger Threat’
"There can be a threat only if we are weak. So as long as we are strong, there is no threat whatsoever. In no circumstances shall our forces be weakened," Gen Rawat said.
“Defence deals being mired in controversies is certainly not in the interest of the the country. Our procurement procedures are cumbersome for a reason - so that no mistakes happen,” he added.
On Politics Post Retirement
Gen Rawat, who feels that he will be a “big misfit” in politics, said “my father was into politics, but he stayed away from active participation in it.”
“Also, I say whatever comes to my mind, that may not suit me well if I were to join politics,” he said.
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