Stressing on talks to establish peace in India-held Kashmir, Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat — in an interview with Economic Times published on Tuesday — said the recruitment of local Kashmiri youth by militants cannot be controlled.
“Talks must happen. The issue is that a lot of locals are joining militancy. We kill them and more would join. Infiltration can be controlled, but this cycle of recruitment of local youth can go on and on. So…let’s give peace a chance and see,” the Indian general was quoted as saying by the ET on Tuesday.
In the interview, he refrained from revealing details of the inquiry on into the incident of a Kashmiri man being tied as human shield to an Indian army vehicle.
“The inquiry is on. I had also made the statement that strongest punishment would be given to him [the accused major] if he is found guilty.”
General Rawat's comments signify a softer stance than his earlier remarks where he had warned the Kashmiri youth, telling them that "freedom is not possible".
"Don’t get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek azadi, those who want to secede. [Freedom] is not going to happen, never," he had said.
The comments come at time when India has found itself unable to control the uprising in India-held Kashmir.
Last Thursday, at least one soldier was killed and another wounded after Kashmiris, who are opposed to the Indian occupation of the region, attacked an Indian patrol. Six Kashmiris were later killed during a search operation in Keran area.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.