“Pakistan has systematically eroded identity of Kashmiris on the other side of the border (PoK).” This was said by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat while delivering the Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Lecture.
He said, “Every time something happens on our side (J&K), we must always address it to say that it is also going to have a radical effect on another side (PoK). The issue is, on the other side, the complete demography has changed.”
“Pakistan has very cleverly changed the complete demography of so-called Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan. So, one is not very sure as to who is an actual Kashmiri, whom we are addressing these issues to,” the Army chief added.
He further said, “People from Gilgit-Baltistan are also now being taken over gradually. So, to say that there is an identity between our side of Kashmiri and the other side, then the identity thing has gradually been eroded very cleverly by Pakistanis. That is an issue we have to look at.”
General Rawat also asserted that the tolerance levels of the people in Kashmir have reduced and perceived alienation as the youth in the region is being indoctrinated to act irrationally.
“In recent times, the tolerance levels of the public in Kashmir have reduced and perceived alienation is indicative of a definitive aspirational deficit amongst the local youth. The Kashmiri youth is being indoctrinated to act irrationally. The proliferation of social media has further compounded the challenge and contributes towards the spread of an anti-establishment narrative,” he noted.
The Army chief said, “Perceptions in Jammu and Kashmir is based on whose story you are listening to. Thus, making peace narrative is very different. These narratives are built around the constructs of radicalisation, alienation, agitation, religious fundamentalism and anti-nationalism on one hand and the perception of a Kashmiri common man on the other.”
Talking about Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion, the Army chief said, “Things will be brought under control and are being brought under control, but sustained pressure needs to be maintained.” Rawat also expressed concern over allowing funeral processions of terrorists. He said that those who are glorifying terrorists as brave hearts are “possibly trying encouraging more people to join the terrorist ranks.”
Importantly, the comments of General Rawat comes hours after two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans sustained injuries in a stone-pelting incident in Kashmir’s Budgam district.