Debugging the myth that army treats all Kashmiris as militants, army chief General Bipin Rawat on Friday said “our job is to separate the terrorists from the Kashmiri people and target them,” according to an Indian Express report. He clarified that army doesn’t believe that all Kashmiris are involved in militancy and said, “We understand that all Kashmiris are not involved in the so-called militancy. There are few, select in number, who indulge in terror and violence. Our job is to separate the terrorists from the Kashmiri people and target the terrorists.”
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The report added that Rawat also rejected the claims that the Army has returned to Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) in the Valley as part of its counter-insurgency strategy in Jammu and Kashmir. “We are not returning to classical CASO in Kashmir, because we know they cause hardship to the local people. These are area search operations. It is not even a cordon,” General Rawat said about the conduct of CASO was stopped nearly 15 years ago. Earlier, there were reports that the practice was conducted in 15 villages in Shopian district last Thursday, which involved nearly 4,000 soldiers of the Rashtriya Rifles.
Speaking about the killing of unarmed Kashmiri Army officer, Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, General Rawat asked people of Kashmir to condemn it. “The young officer was a role model for all young Kashmiris. The way things are, this action has taken Kashmiris back while Lieutenant Ummer was taking it forward. He was encouraging other young people to join a force which the whole country is proud of,” he said. The Army chief said “these people are discouraging Kashmiris from availing job opportunities while thousands of people line up for police recruitment. How can they explain this dichotomy? This act (of Lieutenant Ummer’s murder) should be condemned by all Kashmiris,” he said.