May repeat surgical strike if peace not reciprocated, says Army chief General Bipin Rawat

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New Delhi : Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Friday said India was offering peace to its "adversary" and but if the offer was not reciprocated, India will continue with operations like the surgical strike. The Army chief was asked about the two surgical strikes carried out by India along the Myanmar border in 2015 and one against Pakistan in September 2016.

"Our aim is to ensure peace. We are trying to ensure there is no need for conducting another surgical strike," General Rawat said, addressing a press conference ahead of the Army Day on January 15.

"Our offer to the adversary is if you reciprocate offer of peace in same manner, the need to conduct a surgical strike will not arise," he said.

"But if that offer of peace and tranquillity is not reciprocated in an appropriate manner, this method of execution of operation (surgical strike) will continue," he said.

General Rawat also said that Pakistan has recently conveyed through the military channels that it was willing to enforce the ceasefire along the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Army chief, who took office on December 31, said: "We told them that the words should be supported by actions on the ground and our army is for peace and tranquility."

But he made it clear that the ceasefire would not apply for terrorists infiltrating into the Indian side.

"We will fire on infiltrating terrorists and we have conveyed this through our DGMO to the Pakistani side," he said.

In a press conference that lasted for around two hours, the Army chief spoke extensively on the issue of soldiers using social media to air their grievances, and said that the established mechanisms should be used.

General Rawat announced the setting up of the "Chief of Army Staff Redressal and Grievance Boxes" at the Army Headquarter, at Command headquarters and subsequently at lower levels.

"If someone feels things are going wrong, they can communicate. It is important for me, sitting at the helm, while soldiers are far away," he said and added that listening to their grievances is important for the health of the Army.

Asked if availability of new communication mediums like mobile phones was increasing the problems for soldiers, the Army chief agreed.

"Earlier, there used to be just STD booths, or letters came... Family news did not come real time. The spread of communication is causing more stress," he said.

On a question on having women in combat role, the Army chief referred to the overall social scenario and cited the situation in the frontline areas where soldiers had to sleep together in open, and there were no basic amenities like bathrooms.

"We have to look at the society as a whole... Equal opportunity comes with equal responsibility. Women themselves have to take a call if they are willing to do that," he said.

He also called for taking the situation in Jammu and Kashmir back to normal.

"What happened in 1989, the secular credentials were on target.. We have to make sure Jammu and Kashmir revives back to what it was," the Army Chief said.