Indian armed forces are extremely secular: Army Chief

Day after appointed as CDS, Gen Rawat visits War Memorial

New Delhi, Dec 27   A day after Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat made a controversial statement over Citizenship Amendment Act, he said on Friday Indian armed forces are “extremely secular” and the driving ethos is “Insaniyat” (Humanity) and “Sharafat” (Decency).

On Thursday, General Rawat’s statement on public platform that “instigating large crowds to turn violent and carry out arson doesn’t amount to leadership”, brought a lot of criticism from across the political spectrum and civil societies.

On Friday, General Rawat said Indian armed forces have utmost respect for human rights and India Army had upgraded Human Rights Cell to the level of a Directorate in Army.

He also said that Indian Armed Forces are much disciplined and have utmost respect for human rights laws and International human rights laws.

“The Indian armed forces not only ensure protection of human rights of our own people but also of adversaries and deal with the prisoners of war as per the Geneva Conventions,” said General Rawat while addressing the interns and senior officers of the National Human Rights Commission on the topic “Preserving Human Rights in times of War and Prisoners of War” at Manav Adhikar Bhawan, New Delhi.

The Army Chief said that the challenge is the changing warfare tactics with the advent of technology. “Unlike the attack by any armed forces, the terror attacks remain unaccountable in international law,” he said, adding the counter terrorism and anti-insurgency operations have to be dealt in a manner of winning the hearts of the people by identifying and alienating the insurgents among them without collateral damage, which becomes very challenging and difficult.

General Rawat said that the Army Headquarters had created a human rights cell in 1993, which now is being upgraded to the level of a Directorate to be headed by an Additional Director General. “This will also have police personnel to address the complaints of human rights violations against the armed forces and facilitate related enquiries,” he said.

General Rawat said that a new initiative has been taken in October this year by recruiting women Jawans in Military Police Force. He said that the Army takes along with it several police personnel in search operations, but keeping in view the concerns of women during such operations, the army has now decided to deploy its lady Jawans of its Military Police Force also.

He said that keeping in view the provisions of human rights laws and importance of the protection of human rights, now a court of inquiry is being held after every anti- insurgency operation and all records are maintained related to such operations.

Referring to the Armed Force Special Powers Act, AFSPA, the Army Chief said that the Act gives almost the same powers to the Army, which are also exercised by the Police and the CRPF in connection with search and inquiry operations.

However, over the years the army itself has diluted its application in its own way under the ten commandments issued by the Chief of Army Staff, which are to be strictly adhered to by every soldier, and particularly those deployed for operations in anti- insurgency areas.

“The Supreme Court guidelines on this are also being strictly followed by soldiers, who are all given special training before their deployment in counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations,” he stressed.