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Indian Army ready to flex its muscles on border: chief


NEW DELHI: India’s new army chief, Gen Bipin Rawat, on Sunday said the role of the force was to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border but it would not “shy away from flexing its muscles”.

Eastern Army commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern commander Lt Gen P.M. Hariz would continue to serve the army and maintain unity, he was quoted as saying by the Indian media.

“The force is to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border, but it will not shy away from flexing its muscles, if the need be,” he said.

Gen Rawat, who took charge as the 27th army chief on Saturday, was speaking to reporters here after inspecting the guard of honour at the South Block.

He had superseded two senior most lieutenant generals — Praveen Bakshi and P.M. Hariz.

All units and services of the army “were together” and he would always look at each one of them as one unit, the news reports quoted him as saying.

Lt Gen Bakshi on Saturday announced “full support” to the new army chief and told theatre officers through video conferencing that he would continue to lead with full professional sincerity as before.

Government sources had earlier said that Gen Rawat was found best-suited among the lieutenant generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, “continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the north-east”.

Gen Rawat, a Gorkha Rifles officer, has held key appointments in the army headquarters and with the UN peacekeeping force and has extensive experience in India-held Kashmir and the eastern region, according to the sources.

Meanwhile, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa took over as the 25th Chief of the Air Staff at a ceremony held at the Air Headquarters on Saturday.

The fighter pilot was the commanding officer of a frontline ground-attack fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force that was involved in air operations during the “limited war” in Kargil in 1999.

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