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General Bipin Rawat: Army better prepared to take on challenges at Pakistan, China border

General Bipin Rawat, who retired on Tuesday as the Army chief and is set to take over as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), said the Indian Army was better prepared to take on the challenges at Pakistan and China border.

“Yes, they are better prepared. I thank all the soldiers of the Indian Army who supported me in the last three years of my tenure,” PTI quoted Bipin Rawat as saying.

Conveying his wishes to his successor Lieutenant General Manoj Naravane, General Bipin Rawat said, “Hope Army will rise to greater heights under the new Army Chief.”

A witness to the 73-day faceoff with the Chinese Army at Doklam and a very active Line of Control with Pakistan, where ceasefire violations have reached an all-time high, General Bipin Rawat will take over the duties of CDS from today.

General Rawat, who took over as Army Chief on December 31, 2016, will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-services matters, but will not exercise any military command, including over the three service chiefs.

He will head the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Ministry of Defence. Work exclusively pertaining to military matters will fall within the purview of the DMA, while the Department of Defence will deal with larger issues pertaining to the defence of the country. The three defence services will fall under the ambit of DMA.

As CDS, General Rawat will have to facilitate the restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through the establishment of joint/ theatre commands.

Here are the events that took place under General Bipin Rawat’s tenure:

Doklam standoff

The standoff between India and China, that lasted for over two months, included the Chinese posting more than 12,000 soldiers, 150 tanks and artillery guns opposite Sikkim at Phari Dzong in Chumbi Valley, according to a book titled ‘Securing India The Modi Way: Pathankot, Surgical Strikes and More’ (Bloomsbury), authored by Nitin A Gokhale.

China had claimed the “trespassing” of Indian troops in Doklam was a “betrayal” of a treaty signed in 1890, and India had used Bhutan as an “excuse” to violate the international border between the two countries. At an event marking the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China has the “confidence to defeat all invasions”.

Till last year, the de-escalation of Chinese troops continued, however, they continued to maintain their presence in the north Doklam area.

Pulwama terror attack

The bloodiest attack on Jammu and Kashmir in the last three decades, which claimed at least 40 CRP personnel lives in Pulwama district occurred under Rawat’s regime. The bus, ferrying over 40 soldiers, was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles with 2,547 CRPF personnel, moving from Jammu to Srinagar when a suicide bomber rammed his Scorpio SUV laden with explosives into the CRPF bus.

Months after the worst terror attack in the Valley, in an apparent hit at Pakistan, Rawat claimed there is “ample proof” of what happened in Pulwama. His comments came days after Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan said the Pulwama attack was an “indigenous thing”.

“We are aware of the truth. So we don’t have to get carried away by any statement. The truth is known to us and our establishment. Our intelligence agencies had given ample proof of what had happened in Pulwama and that is all I would like to say,” Rawat told reporters.

Days after the Pulwama attack, the Indian Army had targeted terrorist launch pads, hitting a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot.

Escalation of hostilities along LoC

Since the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army has targeted several terrorist launchpads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

In October, Rawat said, “Ever since the abrogation of special provisions (for Jammu and Kashmir), we are getting repeated inputs about infiltration by terrorists… So far, as per the information available with us, six-10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed and nearly as many terrorists… Three terror camps have been destroyed and on the fourth one also, we have caused severe damage.”

Rawat claimed ever since the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan has been trying to stir trouble and the Indian Army would not hesitate to retaliate.

“Gradually, things are returning to normal in the Valley, but obviously somebody is working behind the scenes, at the behest of terrorists and agencies, some within and some outside Pakistan and PoK, to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere… Three days ago, we foiled an infiltration bid in the Machil Sector and recovered a rucksack and other equipment,” he said.

Controversies surrounding Army chief

The Indian Army came under fire when Major Leetul Gogoi, the army officer who tied a Kashmiri man — Farooq Dar to a jeep on polling day in the Valley, was awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s commendation card for his efforts in counter-insurgency operations. During the investigation, Dar said he was out to cast his vote and later visit his sister’s house, where a bereavement had taken place, to offer condolences. He claimed he was paraded in 10 to 12 villages before he was released.

In the recent past, Rawat criticised protesters voicing against the controversial Citizenship Act, saying they were “leading masses”, including university and college students, to carry out arson and violence in cities, and this did not amount to leadership.

“Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of universities and college students… the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns,” General Rawat said at a health summit in Delhi.

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