Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat (Photo Credit: File )
In a first disclosure, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Thursday said de-radicalisation camps are operating in the country as it was necessary to isolate people who are completely radicalised. In an address at the Raisina Dialogue, General Rawat, delving into the situation in Kashmir, said girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 years are being radicalised in the Valley which he described as a matter of concern.
“These people can still be isolated from radicalisation in a gradual way. But there are people who have been completely radicalised. These people need to be taken out separately, possibly taken to some de-radicalisation camps,” he said.
“We have got de-radicalisation camps going on in our country,” the Chief of Defence Staff said.
He said that Pakistan too has de-radicalisation camps.
“Let me tell you even Pakistan is doing the same. Pakistan also has de-radicalisation camps as they have understood that the terrorism that they have been sponsoring is actually hitting back at them,” Gen Rawat said.
It is for the first time a top-ranking official publicly has talked about existence of de-radicalisation camps in India.
Gen Rawat said containing radicalisation is key to effectively combat terrorism, adding radicalised young people were involved in pelting security forces with stones in Kashmir.
Identifying radicalisation is a major challenge, he said, adding it can be countered with effective programme.
“You got to start looking at where the radicalisation is taking place. Who are the people involved in radicalising the people. It is happening in schools, universities, from religious places and sites, and then there are group of people who are spreading this,” he said.
The former Army chief said it was important to isolate people who have been radicalised.
“You have to start isolating these people gradually and then start a counter radicalisation programme by identifying people who have been radicalised and to what degree.
“You have to segregate them... Then look at those who have been completely radicalised. First target them and then also start looking at the future, like what we have seen in Kashmir,” he said.
On pelting of stones on security forces in Kashmir, Gen Rawat said the stones used were as lethal as pellet guns. “We have had casualties including death being caused because of stone pelting.”
The former Army chief also claimed people in Kashmir suffered pellet wounds on their faces and eyes when they tried to pick up stones from the ground.
“The security forces were not aiming for the face. They aimed for the leg. But the face gets hurt when people tried to pick up stones from the ground," he said.
Gen Rawat said an impression is being created that Indian Army has been heavy-handed in Kashmir.
“Indian Army had to be heavy handed in the initial phases of the proxy war when it was launched in early 1990s. Thereafter we are not using such an approach,” he said.
Gen Rawat pitched for a hardline approach to deal with terrorism in the region, saying the model adopted by the US to take on terror networks after the 9/11 strike needs to be replicated.
In a clear reference to Pakistan, he also sought strong global action including diplomatic isolation against states sponsoring terrorism, asserting that there is a need to take the bull by its horns and strike at the root cause of terrorism.
"We have to bring an end to terrorism and that can only happen the way the Americans started after the 9/11. Let's go on a spree on global war on terror and let the nations join and fight terrorism together," Gen Rawat said.
"In trying to do that, you have to isolate the terrorists. Anybody sponsoring terrorism has to be taken to task," he said.
After the September 11, 2001 terror attack, the US had declared a global war on terror which included legislative measures as well as military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Somalia, Mali and Nigeria.
"You cannot have partners who are partnering with you in the global war on terrorism and yet sponsoring proxies and terror. You have to have an international messaging that has to go to them. Hard action should be taken," Gen Rawat said.
He said action like blacklisting countries by global anti-terror watchdog FATF could be a good option.
"You have to bring about acceptability in the nations that there are sponsors of terrorism. Denial of terrorism cannot be allowed to continue," Gen Rawat said.
He said there was a need to strike at the root of terrorism.
"As long as there are states which sponsor terrorism, we will have to live with the menace. We need to take the bull by its horns and strike at the root cause," he said.
He also compared cyber warfare by terrorists to "soup" in a banquet, "starters" with missiles and drone attacks and "main course" with combat in air and sea.
"The banquet can well be attacked by a swarm of bees in the form of terrorists," he said, adding the future of terrorism is going to be as dirty as conventional combat.
"The war on terror is not ending. The war on terror is something which is going to continue. We will have to live with it until we understand and get to the roots of terrorism," he added.
The former Army chief said terrorism is going to stay as long as certain states are going continue sponsoring it and use terrorists as their proxies besides providing weapons and funds to terror groups.
Asked whether he supports ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban, he said talks should be initiated with everybody provided they give up the "weapon of terrorism".
"You have to come to a peace deal with everybody. You have to go for a negotiated deal but in that the Taliban or whoever it may be must give up the weapon of terror," he said.
Asked whether Pakistan will continue its support to Taliban, Gen Rawat replied: "the answer is yes."
"You have to change the ideology behind Taliban for lasting peace (in Afghanistan). It cannot be a temporary measure," he added.
Asked about his new post, he said the CDS is the first among equals but he has got clear and well defined responsibilities.
"While he is the first among equals, he has some authority over the three service chiefs except on operational issues," he said.
(With PTI inputs)