Soldiers in Kashmir fear they are ‘effectively becoming army of occupation’: BBC Report


Quoting Indian army sources a report in BBC has revealed that many army soldiers fear that they are effectively becoming an “army of occupation” in Kashmir.

The report titled as “Why Indian army defended Kashmir ‘human shield’ officer” appeared in on May 31.

Indian army sources have told the BBC that morale among soldiers stationed in the valley is very low. Many army soldiers are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their role in Kashmir, saying they fear they are effectively becoming an army of occupation, says the report.

The report puts in perspective the controversy surrounding the awarding the army major who committed the act of tying a Kashmiri to the front of army jeep and paraded him through many villages of Beerwah area of central Kashmir.

“Major Gogoi says he decided to tie Mr Dar to the jeep in a “fraction of a moment” and subsequently claimed it saved 12 lives. Despite the length of Mr Dar’s ordeal, he argues it created “a window to move out of the area safely”, the report says.

Indian Army Chief on May 28 said backed the act of using a civilian as human shield and termed it as “innovative” saying the Army is fighting a “dirty war” in Kashmir. He said the commendation for major has a purpose of boosting the morale of soldiers.

“We are fighting a legacy of political betrayal, infiltration, rigging in local elections, cynical politics, bad governance, vested interests, religion and regional divides,” one senior army officer in Kashmir told my colleague, Soutik Biswas, a few weeks ago, the report said.

The report further says that many Kashmiris fear that conflict in Kashmir will worsen. “They say that the award of the medal to Major Gogoi has deepened opposition to Indian rule and to the presence of the army,” the report says.

On the issue of worsening conflict , the report quotes  Gen Rawat saying “In fact,” he told journalists, “I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I [want to do].”

The report terms General’s views as “extraordinary sentiment” and says it is “a measure of just how difficult India is finding it to keep order in its most restive province”.

“His worry is that Kashmiris are losing their fear of his troops. If that happens, he says, the country is doomed,” the report adds.

The report concludes with a quote from Army chief saying, “Adversaries must be afraid of you and at the same time your people must be afraid of you,” says Gen Rawat. “We are a friendly army, but when we are called to restore law and order, people have to be afraid of us.”

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