He said the challenge was changing warfare tactics with the advent of technology.
New Delhi: Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said on Friday that the “driving ethos” of the Indian armed forces “are extremely secular”. Gen. Rawat was addressing the interns and senior officers of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on “Preserving Human Rights in Times of War and Prisoners of War” here, officials said.
“The driving ethos of the Indian armed forces is insaniyat (humanity) and sharafat (decency). They are extremely secular,” Gen. Rawat was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the NHRC.
Gen. Rawat’s remarks came a day after he was under fire from the Opposition parties for his comments that leadership was not about guiding the masses, students to carry out arson and violence. His comments were seen by the Opposition as being directed against the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.
Gen. Rawat said the armed forces are very disciplined and they have utmost respect for human rights laws and international human rights conventions. He said the Indian armed forces not only ensure protection of human rights of our own people but also of our adversaries, and deal with prisoners of war as per the Geneva Conventions.
He said the challenge was changing warfare tactics with the advent of technology. “Unlike the attack by any armed forces, terror attacks remain unaccountable in international law. Hence, the counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations have to be dealt with in a manner of winning the hearts of people by identifying and alienating the insurgents among them without any collateral damage, which becomes very challenging and difficult,” said Gen. Rawat.
He pointed out that Army Headquarters had created a human rights cell in 1993, which was now 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 to facilitate related enquiries,” he said.
Gen. Rawat said a new initiative has been taken in October this year by recruiting women jawans in the Military Police. He said 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 women Military Police jawans as well.
He said in view of the provisions of human rights law and the importance of the protection of human rights, a court of enquiry is held after every anti-insurgency operation and all records are kept on such operations.
Referring to the Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Army Chief said this law gives almost the same powers to the Army, as are also exercised by the police and CRPF personnel in connection with search and enquiry 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 insurgency-hit areas. The Supreme Court guidelines too are also being strictly followed by soldiers, who are given special training before their deployment in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.