Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, flags off Infantry cyclists on the occasion of Infantry Day at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, near India Gate, in New Delhi. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Stone pelters in Jammu and Kashmir are overground workers of terror groups and should be dealt with sternly, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said Saturday, a day after a 22-year-old jawan was killed by stone pelting in Kashmir.

Gen Rawat also warned Pakistan to desist from supporting cross-border terrorism. Sending a tough message, the army official said if Islamabad continues to support terrorism, the Indian Army can resort to “other actions”.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event to mark Infantry Day, the army chief, however, did not elaborate on what the possible action he was talking about.

The army had carried out “surgical strikes” on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on September 28, 2016, following a string of terror attacks on military installations in India by Pakistan-based terror groups.

On the death of jawan Rajendra Singh in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Gen Rawat said: “I still say the same. If they (stone-pelters) can kill people with such acts, are they not becoming like terrorists?”

Singh died at a hospital in Srinagar on Friday after he sustained head injuries when a group of youth threw stones at him on Thursday. The army has lodged an FIR in the case, and the chief called for tough action against the stone-pelters.

‘Pakistan cannot succeed in J&K’

Talking about Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Rawat suggested that the neighbouring country was resorting to a “proxy war” to avenge its defeat at the hands of India in the 1971 war, when Bangladesh was liberated.

The aim of Pakistan, he said, is to keep the Indian Army “embroiled in this proxy war that they have lost.”

“But, let me assure you, the Indian Army and the Indian State is strong enough to ensure that J&K remains a part of India. No one else can take it away by force or by any other means, because legally, legitimately J&K is integral part of India,” he said.

On cross-border infiltration, he said Pakistan would be wise to know that it was harming itself by indulging in such activities. “We are capable of finishing off any infiltrators who reach our side. But, if Pakistan continues to support infiltration, we can use other kinds of action too,” Rawat said.

He said Pakistan continued to fuel disturbances in J&K, fully knowing that they would never succeed.

“Legitimately, legally and by all rights, J&K is part of India. Pakistan somehow has been trying to annex this part of the country, more so after they lost East Pakistan with the liberation of Bangladesh,” he said.

Despite the passage of many decades, Pakistan still desired to succeed in that, he said. “After the liberation of Bangladesh, they decided to create a similar situation in Kashmir. Has Pakistan succeeded? They have not. And Pakistan is fully aware they cannot succeed in J&K. It is just another way to keep the turmoil going and not allow development in the state,” he said.

Infantry Day is observed every year to commemorate the sacrifices made by Indian Army’s infantry against Pakistan, in J&K.

Rawat earlier laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial to pay tribute to infantry soldiers who died in the line of duty.