All systems are working well, he says at Army Commanders’ conference
As controversy rages over the Army’s alleged use of a civilian, Farooq Ahmed Dar, as a human shield in Kashmir, the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat, said on Monday that the Army continued to maintain a “strong image and professional reputation”.
He was speaking at the biannual Army Commanders’ conference, which began in the national capital on Monday.
Govt. defends Army
Meanwhile, the government came out in defence of the Army, with Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi saying that “it helped contain stone pelters and saved the poll officials”.
Gen. Rawat, in his opening address, emphasised that all systems were working well and complimented all those who are working on the ground, the Army said in a statement.
The video of Mr. Dar being tied in front of the Army jeep, purportedly filmed on April 9 on the eve of polling, came out last Friday and evoked sharp reactions. Several retired military officials were among those who criticised the Army.
Addressing the conference, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley complimented the senior military hierarchy. “Whenever challenges multiply or their nature changes, Indian Army has always outperformed itself,” he said.
The Army has so far maintained total silence on the incident. However, a source said that the facts were being ascertained and an inquiry would soon be conducted against the officer responsible, a Company Commander holding the rank of a Major.
Speaking to NDTV, Mr. Rohatgi questioned why there was so much noise about it. “Our Army is not a rogue army, its intention is not to kill.”
He said the Army was dealing with terrorists, not protesters. “They are doing a great job under hostile conditions. Everyone should be proud of the manner in which the Indian Army is performing,” he said, rejecting contentions of excessive use of force.
He also praised the Army for using force in a manner calculated to minimise casualties.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had strongly condemned the incident. She had conveyed her concerns to Gen. Rawat during the latter’s visit to Jammu on Sunday.