New Delhi, Feb 17
Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh on Friday urged the Congress and other opposition parties to refrain from criticising Army chief General Bipin Rawat for warning Kashmiri protesters.
"I think regardless of our political affiliations, it is to be understood that politcking in the name of sceurity forces is ultimatley going to affect each one of us," Singh told media at the BJP headquarters here.
He said that calling the Army chief "hot headed" was akin to indulging in "lowly politics", which he said a number of opposition leaders were doing.
He said that such statements from the Congress were "unbecoming of a national party".
"We earnestly appeal to all political sections and the Congress party to not indulge in any kind of politics at the cost of the morale of security forces," Singh said.
The Army chief issued a warning to Kashmiri youths interfering during anti-militancy operations that they will be treated as anti-nationals.
"We would request the local population... local boys if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism, displaying flags of the IS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them... If they do not relent and create hurdles, then we will take tough action," Gen. Rawat said.
Justifying Rawat's remarks, the minister said: "The Army chief's statement, to be fair, was actually inspired by the concern for the youths of Kashmir. During anti-terror operations, the Army is always concerned about collateral damage and tries to avoid it."
"But some Congress leaders are interpreting it as if the Army is after the Kashmiri youths, which is not the case," he added.
Jitendra Singh said that Kashmir-centric parties such as the National Conference were saying "unsavoury things" about the Army.
"When they (National Conference) are in power, they swear by India and Kashmir as an integral part of India. The moment they are shunted out of power, they overnight become wiser and question the role of the Army in the state," the minister said.
The opposition in Kashmir expressed dismay over the "belligerent remarks" of the Army chief, which it said would "increase the hostility in the valley".
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was on Friday reported by a section of the media as saying that the government was to blame for the worsening situation in the state.
Singh said the Congress statement was unfortunate.
"The Congress is also falling for the same separatist and semi-separatist jargon for short-term electoral gains, which may also elude it in the time to come," Singh said.