Lieutenant General KJS Dhillon, who is all set to take over the reins of army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps later this month, has said "peace-building" in Kashmir will be his primary focus.
In an interview to The Quint, Dhillon, the 15 Corps commander designate, said he would open "all avenues" for local boys to surrender. He said a militant or a family member could approach a village sarpanch or the local administration, or a field unit of the army, even a bunker or post along the road.
Lt Gen Dhillon asserted he would make sure any such "message will get to me", and he would do everything to ensure a smooth surrender.
He also drew a clear distinction between militants and the rest of the population.
"One who has picked up the gun has to die one day, unless he surrenders," he said, but "the security (sic) environment has to be maintained."
In this light, Dhillon emphasised the need for a "balanced and healthy approach" to the task of ensuring security, so that the "public is not hassled".
"The primary objective was to ensure that people could go about their day-to-day activities without interference," Dhillon said, adding the district police had the task of dealing with crime, while the army, the police and the paramilitary forces worked together as "a team, as one unit' to ensure the security of the environment was maintained.
Replying to a query as to how he viewed stone-pelting, Lt Gen Dhillon said it could be seen as a way to express anguish, but was also used in Kashmir to 'rescue' militants and to disrupt the operations of the security forces. He held that those who did the latter were "paid pelters".
Dhillon said ensuring the conduct of peaceful elections was the main concern of any security force in a democracy.
Dhillon said "the anti-infiltration grid is very strong".
The number of foiled attempts and of infiltrators killed demonstrated this," he said.
"This indicates excellent intelligence, and coordination between various agencies and forces."
The top army officer said after his appointment for the new assignment he has spent his days going over files and records, to bring himself up to date with the situation in Kashmir.
Dhillon brings to his new assignment many years of experience in Kashmir. He was a young captain and Major in Panjgam Niara in the north from 1988 to 1990, and later served as a Rashtriya Rifles company commander in Lolab, also in the Kupwara district.
He served as a commanding officer at Gulmarg and in Tral, and later became the Brigadier General Staff (BGS) at the Corps headquarters in 2012-13.