M A I N   N E W S

Army Chief stands up for AFSPA
In an exclusive interview to The Tribune, General VK Singh asserts that India is prepared to meet any kind of threat from Pakistan and China
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

n Neighbours’ intentions can change as capabilities grow...we are prepared to meet the threats
n We are prepared to fight dirty... in the sense we can fight through an area contaminated by a nuclear strike
n Wars are fought by human beings...so that capital has to be good
n As a person who heads the Army, I find there is no problem on our borders
n We would like our private sector to come up to meet our requirements

— Army Chief General VK Singh

New Delhi, October 16
A staggering 96 per cent of the complaints of human rights violations against the Army have been found to be false, claimed the Army Chief General V.K. Singh in an exclusive interview with the Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Raj Chengappa. (Read the complete interview on Page 12).

General Singh emphatically said that the Indian Army is concerned about its image and pointed out that in the rural areas in Kashmir, where the Army has its presence, there is enormous goodwill for the Army. Even in times of crises these areas have been quiet and peaceful and people have not supported agitations.

Ruling out the need for diluting the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act ( AFSPA), the Army Chief asserted that the Indian Army has a ‘human rights’ cell within its rank and that the Army is very serious about taking action against the odd offender who misuses his power. “ We take very quick action...the Army does it even faster than a fast-track court,” said the General while reiterating the view upheld by the Supreme Court that AFSPA is an enabling provision and not an arbitrary Act.

Admitting that India has unstable neighbours to the West, the Army Chief played down threats on the north and the north-eastern border. Saying that the confidence-building measures on the border with China are working well, the General said with a wry smile, “ I think at times things get unnecessarily blown up.” He went on to strike a note of caution though and said that since the country has an unresolved border dispute with China, the Army has to be prepared for all eventualities.

On a more positive note, the General declared that if a war is thrust on the country, “ We will take the war to its logical conclusion whether it is a nuclear strike or no nuclear strike...I am quite confident of our nuclear capability. We are clear that as a nation we will be able to withstand whatever comes our way and retaliate in adequate measure”.

Replying to questions, the Army Chief dwelt at length on issues like obsolescence, problems related to modernisation and whether there is a role for the Army in Afghanistan.

The General ruled out any military involvement of the Indian Army in Afghanistan. “ We do not look at the Army stepping in, in any way, and we are not recommending to do so,” he told The Tribune.

The Army Chief said that the Indian Army is going through a process of transformation, becoming more agile, more capable of transmitting its “lethality” and having more responsive logistical support.





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