New Delhi: China only understands strength and will keep up the pressure if you don’t show it as India did in August 2020, former Defence Intelligence Agency chief Lt Gen K.J.S. Dhillon (retd) has said.
Lt Gen Dhillon, who is popularly known as “Tiny Dhillon”, made these remarks Tuesday in conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Deputy Editor Snehesh Alex Philip in the latest episode of the “Off The Cuff” series.
Promoting his new book, “Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye”, Lt Gen Dhillon also spoke at length on various issues like the role of the armed forces in Kashmir, and shared personal experiences from the field.
Standing up to China
Lt Gen Dhillon avoided divulging specific details — citing his prior role in the Defence Intelligence Agency — to a question on the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) occupation of Depsang plains and the restriction of Indian troops to a strategic bottleneck.
Instead, he said that China only understood strength and treated cordial relations as a sign of weakness.
“If you’re goody-goody with China, they will keep mounting on you. You show them strength as we did in August 2020 at Rezang La ridge… Our options in the Indian Army are very clear, strong and we have the wherewithal. We cannot accept bullish behaviour from any neighbour,” Lt Gen Dhillon said.
Dynamic internal security in J&K
On the issue of a possible withdrawal of the Army from Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Gen Dhillon argued that internal security situations — like those happening in the region — were dynamic and continuous, and short-term decisions could not be taken without looking at the future.
In light of past incidents, the former Defence Intelligence Agency chief reiterated that security forces present in the region “cannot allow the situation to slip out of hand” as enough lives of personnel have been lost.
“Everyone calls themselves security forces. We do not differentiate between the uniform nor the colour of the uniform. There is an Army convoy which moves through all of Kashmir, and similarly the presence of CRPF, BSF and Jammu and Kashmir (is) all over,” he added.
What’s in a (book) name?
Lt Gen Dhillon was asked about the inspiration behind his new book, and particularly its title.
He recalled that he had used the phrase, “Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye”, during a
press conference in February 2019 following the blast in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF personnel.
He said the phrase was linked to terrorist codenames.
“The leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) module carrying out the blast was a Pakistani terrorist named Kamran. His codename was Ghazi and Ghazi is a very preferred codename for Pakistani terrorists. Even in my previous tenures, a lot of Pakistani terrorists with the Ghazi codename had been eliminated by us,” Lt Gen Dhillon said.
The former Defence Intelligence Agency chief further added that in the days since that Pulwama attack, the local media was “buzzing” with the Ghazi name and made the terrorist a “larger-than-life persona” in the process.
“In the press conference, a journalist asked me if ‘Ghazi’ was dead. I didn’t want to give much credence to Ghazi, and having eliminated so many in the past, my one-liner (in response) was ‘Kitne Ghazi aaye, kitne Ghazi gaye’ (many Ghazis have come, many Ghazis have gone),” Lt Gen Dhillon said.
The need to boost Kashmiris’ ‘soft power’
Among the policy issues Lt Gen Dhillon touched upon, was the potential way forward for normalisation of society in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.
While Lt Gen Dhillon supported the continuation of “hard operation” in the region as a counter-terrorism tactic, he stressed that “90 per cent” of the solution must involve boosting the soft power of Kashmiri civilians due to the structural damages done in the region over the years because of terrorism.
“Education, job creation, income, medical facilities, hygiene sanitation, infrastructure, banking, tourism and agriculture have suffered. These need to be put in place so that a normal Kashmiri earns his livelihood and so that his son does not waver towards terrorism,” Lt Gen Dhillon said.
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