'Indian soldiers follow rules of war'

Even though the Indian Army is always prepared to guard the border even under most trying conditions, Indian soldiers do not deviate from fundamental norms of soldiering, Army Chief General Bikram Singh affirmed on Tuesday.

Addressing the 65th Army Day parade here, Singh said even in tough terrain like Siachen, Indian soldiers followed the principles of war and human rights. The Army chief on Monday, however, made it clear that the entire rank and file in the Army was angry over the killing and beheading of Indian soldiers in what appears a clandestine operation mounted by Pakistan special forces.

“We expect accountability from Pakistani Army and conveyed our strong message of deviation from basic norms of soldiering at the flag meeting,” he stated. A day later, Singh said Indian Army kept its operational preparedness at the highest level in view of various challenges. As his message was meant for Army's 1.13 million soldiers, the chief spoke in Hindi and applauded soldiers for maintaining high standards of human rights while in the line of duty under difficult conditions.

"I want to assure the nation that Indian Army is prepared to face all challenges to national security. Every soldier of the Indian Army is ready to face any challenge and make any sacrifice for the nation,” the Army chief said.

"Indian Army is always prepared for securing boundaries of the nation and foil the designs of the enemy. It deals with all challenges in a professional manner," he said.
In the afternoon, Singh played host to supreme commander of the armed forces, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, defence minister A K Antony and other cabinet ministers and top officials at a reception in Army House, where the Prime Minister talked tough but Antony preferred silence.

The Army chief had gone ballistic on Monday. The general said he wanted his commanders on the line of control to be aggressive and offensive. The commanders were also instructed to fight fire with fire in case of any provocation from across the border.

Singh, repeatedly, clarified that the conflict with Pakistan on the Krishna Ghati sector on the Line of Control near Poonch happened at the tactical level and is currently on the lowest rung of the evolving conflict situation. He stated it has to move up to the level of engagement, battle and campaign before a full scale war breaks out, which in any case would be a political decision.

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