January 2019 News

Misinformation, Social Media Radicalising J&K Youth: Army Chief

9 January 2019

New Delhi: Claiming that 'militancy is becoming a new form of warfare', the army chief general Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that the 'menace is spreading its head like a multi-headed monster' and is 'here to stay as long as states continue to use it as a state policy'. Rawat, speaking at a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue, India's flagship conference on geopolitics, also said that there was a need to control social media as it was 'becoming a source of spreading radicalisation'. 'Therefore, I think the international community must get together in ensuring that the source of the social media is prevented from spreading false information and disinformation because a lot of funds are coming from people who are getting radicalised,' said Rawat. He said a different kind of 'radicalisation is being witnessed in India and in Jammu and Kashmir, the youth are getting radicalised due to a lot of misinformation, disinformation, and a lot of falsehoods on religion being fed to them'. 'That is why you find more and more educated youth being drawn into militancy', he said. 'Terrorism is here to stay as long as there are nations that continue to sponsor it as a state policy,' Rawat said. 'Militancy is becoming a new form of warfare. A weaker nation is using militants as proxy to put pressure on another nation to come to terms with it,' he said. The Army Chief said the ISIS has not been able to find its feet in India as in some other countries and attributed it to India's rich family values and good neighbourhood watch system. On the Afghan peace process, he said there should be negotiations with the Taliban, but without conditions. He also said that Pakistan has always kept the Taliban in its backyard and should be concerned about it. He said there was definitely a nexus between drugs and guns and unless movement of drugs was controlled, it will be difficult to contain the movement of funds and guns. The army chief's comments Wednesday, at the Raisina Dialogue, on engaging with Taliban were first such public remarks by a senior functionary of the government. Rawat said peace and stability in Afghanistan will be in interests of India, Pakistan and the entire region. 'Yes, there should be talks with Taliban so long as they do not come out with any preconditions and so long as they are looking at lasting peace in Afghanistan and bring about stability in that country. It is in our interests, it is in the region's interests and it is in Pakistan's interests,' he said. He was asked about several countries engaging the Taliban as part of the Afghan peace process. 'There can be no preconditions attached because when you start attaching preconditions, then it kind of gives a sense of a notion of victory (to them),' he said. Major powers like the US and Russia have been reaching out to the Taliban as part of efforts to push the stalled Afghan peace process. India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. In a significant move, India had sent two former diplomats in 'non official' capacity to a conference on Afghan peace process in Moscow in November which was attended by a high-level Taliban delegation. The conference organised by Russia was attended by representatives of Afghanistan as well as from several other countries including the US, Pakistan and China. India has been maintaining a policy of not engaging with the Taliban and pressing for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace initiative to bring peace and stability in the war-ravaged country. It is learnt that Iran is also engaged in talks with the Taliban. Iranian sources have said that in case India wants to use Iran's channels of communication with the Taliban, Tehran will be open to such a proposition.