India’s newly-appointed army chief General Bipin Rawat on Sunday (January 01) said the country’s overtures for peace should not be construed as sign of weakness and the military will not shy away from using force.
“Our army seeks peace and tranquillity, but it does not mean that we are weak. We are capable and powerful by every means and if required, will not hesitate in using force,” General Rawat told reporters in New Delhi before assuming charge.
He became the 26th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on Saturday (December 31), succeeding General Dalbir Singh.
His appointment came in the backdrop of sharply deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan, with allegations of cross-border ceasefire violations by both sides.
Rawat also visited the Amar Jawan Jyoti or flame of the immortal soldier to pay tributes to soldiers who died in World War I.
The appointment of Rawat, a counterinsurgency specialist, raised eyebrows among opposition parties because he was given the job ahead of two more senior candidates.
The only time the senior-most officer was not appointed army chief was in 1983, when Indira Gandhi-led government chose to appoint Lieutenant General A.S. Vaidya as chief overlooking Lieutenant General S.K. Sinha. Sinha, then Vice Chief, chose to take an early retirement in protest.