300 terrorists waiting to infiltrate, talks with separatists can happen only if guns are shunned: Army Chief
To a question on the possibility of talks with separatists, the Army Chief said, "Our position is very clear -- shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour. Talks can happen only if they shun violence".
He went on to add, "But the offer to terrorists to come over ground (and) look for peace is always there because who is being affected by this, people of Kashmir themselves and they are realising it".
Gen Rawat emphasised that the Indian Army is very professional and does not target civilians intentionally.
"But we do know there are terrorists operating from that (Pakistani) soil who attempt to cross the border. So, it is very difficult to identify between a civilian and a terrorist," he said.
"If a terrorist is firing at me, even the UN (United Nations) allows us to use maximum force," the Army Chief said.
Rejecting charges of a cover-up of wrongdoings by some Army personnel, he said in over 150 cases of violations of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), action has been taken against the accused.
He also spoke about the menace of stone pelting in Kashmir directed at the security forces. "I give a lot of credit to CRPF drivers", whose vehicles are "badly hit" by stones, despite which no one has died under their vehicles, he said.
The Army Chief emphasised that despite Imran Khan taking over as Pakistan Prime Minister, there has been no change "practically" in the support provided by the Pakistan Army to the terrorists to infiltrate into India.
On talks with the Taliban, he said that some people had already been sent from India to take part in that process and it was an ongoing move as India should not be left out.
Countries including the US, Russia, Iran and Pakistan have been talking with the Taliban but India has not shown any interest in it so far.
Comparing the two situations, he said, the same analogy cannot be applied in Kashmir as it was India's internal matter. "Since it was a matter between two nations, there is no place for third party intervention. We have to talk on our terms and conditions and our terms are very clear. Before we start talking, you have to shun the gun, give up violence," he said.
The chief said the peace moves by the Army and security forces have started working as the number of youth joining terror groups has come down but the youth shunning terrorist groups are living in immense fear due to the threat posed by the Pakistan based terror groups.
The number of terrorists killed has also impacted the youth in a way, he said adding that they know that the life of a terrorist is not very long.
Asked about the claims by Pakistan Army that small quadcopters have been downed by its forces on the LoC, the chief said the Army is using quadcopters for surveillance of areas for information if somebody is lying there or some warlike material is kept in an area.
"Then we try and cautiously approach that area where either there is poor visibility or while taking difficult area," he said saying downing such small machines was no achievement.
On the issue of the lack of sniper rifles, the chief said the Army was getting new ones on January 20 under the Northern Army Commander's financial power while the force will centrally also look to buy more to maintain the quota of 5,000 of these weapons.
To a query on the fate of the India Gate memorial in view of the new national war memorial coming up before Republic Day this year, he said the government will take a call on the ceremonial procedures to be followed in future as the new memorial is for soldiers who attained martyrdom after independence.