Army needs to stay in Kashmir: Gen Bikram Singh

New Delhi: Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh on Monday said there should be no dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the prevailing situation in the region, including possible militant spillover into the Valley after US drawdown in Afghanistan.
“We need to look at developments in Afghanistan in 2014 before we can look at perhaps tampering with or diluting the Disturbed Areas (Act). This is in regard to the (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said here.
Gen Singh said it would be prudent to “wait and watch for a while” before taking a call on AFSPA.
“As per military’s perspective, (in view of) the situation prevailing in the Valley, I think we should wait for a while to see whether the situation remains the same, worsens or improves. Based on that we should take action,” the Army chief said.
In a word of caution, he said perhaps there may be a certain amount of spillover from Afghanistan into Jammu and Kashmir. “There are certain inputs alluding to this already. And, therefore, we need to be on guard,” he said at a press conference on the eve of the Army Day on January 15.
Asked about the statement of Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan that AFSPA should be lifted from Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Singh said as a matter of principle, “I never comment on statements of political leaders….Our national perspective is that it is our country, Jammu and Kashmir is our state and nobody should have any doubts about it. We are implementing the national strategy and the army is playing its role as part of that.”
Bhushan has batted for the lifting of AFSPA, saying it gave the Army immunity in cases of human rights violation while causing alienation amongst the people. APP has dissociated itself from his remarks.
On the 2010 fake encounter of Machhil in Kashmir in which three civilians were killed by the Army, Singh said the legal procedures have brought out charges against two officers and soldiers and they are facing the summary General Court Martial.
He said the action taken by the Army in the Machhil case will send out a strong message in the service against staging fake encounters in future and it has reiterated the Do’s and Don’ts and ten commandments of the Chief of Army Staff on human rights issue.
“There is a zero tolerance policy towards human rights violations and this shows our commitment in this direction. We have the utmost respect for the law of the land and we will uphold it,” Gen Singh said.
He refused to comment on the proceedings in the Pathribal case saying the matter was sub-judice and it was not appropriate for him to comment on it.—PTI