Pakistan has changed the demography of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and “eroded” the identity of Kashmiris there, said Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat here on Wednesday.
Rawat made the remarks after delivering the YB Chavan Memorial Lecture, wherein he pointed out Pakistan’s role in ‘hybrid warfare’ against India by perpetrating terrorist attacks.
While speaking about PoK, Rawat said, “On the other side the demography has changed. Pakistan has cleverly changed the demography of so-called Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. One is not very sure who is an actual Kashmiri. Is he a Kashmiri or a Punjabi who has come in there and occupied that area…So, if there is an identity between our side of Kashmir and the other side, then the identity thing has gradually been eroded.”
The Army Chief also underlined that the radicalisation of youth in Jammu and Kashmir is happening through falsehood. “People are back from schools and colleges and there is nothing else to do other than watch television and look at mobile phones. These messages (in phones) convey everything negative and falsehood,” he said.
“The other issue is job opportunity…today there are people with the same discrepancies in other parts of the country, but have they taken to the gun. They haven’t…In Kashmir it is only happening because of radicalisation and people who are taking to the gun are being treated as martyrs,” he added.
However, Rawat said that successful operations are happening in Kashmir through hard intelligence from locals. “It is being provided by the same people who feel that a terrorist should not be in my neighbourhood,” he said.
The army chief explained that the terrorists have to brought to a level where they are not able to “revamp” and have opportunities to come together. On the sidelines of the event, while commenting on the killing of Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Naveed Jatt by security forces in Budgam on Wednesday, he added that the army is planning to eliminate the terrorist leadership.
The Army Chief also said that by just having a string of successful operations does not mean that peace can be given a chance. “To think that by having just one good year you can give peace a chance that may not be the best option. You have to have repeated successes and then think of giving peace a chance. I think that is what we are doing now,” he said.
This was in contrast to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan pushing for peace with India at the foundation laying ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan. Rawat, however, pointed out that the corridor initiative should be kept in “isolation”, when asked by reporters if this was a sign of peace.