In an address at the Raisina Dialogue, Gen Rawat, delving into the situation in Kashmir, said girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 years are being radicalised in the Valley which he described as a matter of concern.
“These people can still be isolated from radicalisation in a gradual way. But there are people who have been completely radicalised. These people need to be taken out separately, possibly taken to some de-radicalisation camps,” he said.
“We have got de-radicalisation camps going on in our country,” the Chief of Defence Staff said.
He said that Pakistan too has de-radicalisation camps.
“Let me tell you even Pakistan is doing the same. Pakistan also has de-radicalisation camps as they have understood that the terrorism that they have been sponsoring is actually hitting back at them,” Gen Rawat said.
It is for the first time a top-ranking official has publicly talked about existence of de-radicalisation camps in India.
Gen Rawat said containing radicalisation is key to effectively combat terrorism, adding radicalised young people were involved in pelting security forces with stones in Kashmir.
Identifying radicalisation is a major challenge, he said, adding it can be countered with effective programme.
“You got to start looking at where the radicalisation is taking place. Who are the people involved in radicalising the people. It is happening in schools, universities, from religious places and sites, and then there are group of people who are spreading this,” he said.
The former Army chief said it was important to isolate people who have been radicalised.
“You have to start isolating these people gradually and then start a counter radicalisation programme by identifying people who have been radicalised and to what degree.
“You have to segregate them … Then look at those who have been completely radicalised. First target them and then also start looking at the future, like what we have seen in Kashmir,” he said.
On pelting of stones on security forces in Kashmir, Gen Rawat said the stones used were as lethal as pellet guns. “We have had casualties including death being caused because of stone pelting.”
The former Army chief also claimed people in Kashmir suffered pellet wounds on their faces and eyes when they tried to pick up stones from the ground.
“The security forces were not aiming for the face. They aimed for the leg. But the face gets hurt when people tried to pick up stones from the ground,” he said.
Gen Rawat said an impression is being created that Indian Army has been heavy-handed in Kashmir.
“Indian Army had to be heavy handed in the initial phases of the proxy war when it was launched in early 1990s. Thereafter we are not using such an approach,” he said.