KARACHI: President Arif Alvi on Monday dismissed the remarks of a former Indian army officer advocating the rape of Kashmiri women as disgraceful.

In a tweet, the president condemned the comments made by retired Maj Gen SP Sinha during a TV show on Hindi news channel TV9 Bharatvarsh, in India, in which he can be heard saying: “Death in return for death, rape in return for rape.”

“Disgraceful. Maj Gen(R) SP Sinha a leader of BJP advocates rape of Kashmiri women on TV. Imagine the fate of women in Indian Occupied Kashmir where such men wield power with total impunity. Indian forces have used rape as a tool according to HRW report,” Mr Alvi wrote.

The president’s reaction comes a day after a clip of the former Indian army officer went viral on social media with many criticising him for the hateful remarks.

President Alvi terms remarks disgraceful

According to Indian publication Scroll.in, Mr Sinha had asked for “death in return for death, and rape in return for rape” in order to avenge the alleged atrocities against Kashmiri Pandits during their exodus from Kashmir in 1990.

In the clip, the moderator is seen trying to calm down the heated exchange, which involved the panellists and audience members. During the two-minute video, another panellist says he is walking out in protest against Mr Sinha’s remark.

The ex-officer — who in the clip is seen sticking by his reprehensible remarks — has received strong backlash at home as well.

An activist, Saket Gokhale, said he had written to the Indian army chief and the ministry of defence demanding that the army “clarify” its position on Sinha’s remarks and to initiate proceedings to strip his rank and freeze his pension.

Elsa Marie, a social entrepreneur, said the former officer was inciting rape and murder on live television.

“Watch the guy sitting quietly next to him. That man represents majority of India who are silent bystanders. #shame,” she tweeted.

According to First Post, former director general of military operations, retired Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, said: “Insensitive and unfortunate. I am sure he has not been anywhere near the frontline or in contact in CT ops ever [...] Extreme views of an individual who is known to make obnoxious statements for momentary fame.”

In a tweet, a former chief of the Srinagar-based 15 corps, retired Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, said: “Those in thick of CT operations know what it’s all about. Human suffering witnessed upfront tempers opinion. Sometimes feel [Pakistan] Army’s system of clearing veteran [officers] for public forums is correct. Loose missiles avoided.”

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Monday condemned the remarks, saying Indian army officers had become the “agents” of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

For years, human rights groups have accused Indian troops of intimidating and controlling the population of held Kashmir with physical and sexual abuse and unjustified arrests. Indian government officials deny this, calling the allegations propaganda.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019