On Tuesday, the Army Chief came face-to-face with the 35-odd students, a sharp contrast to the ones that the army usually deals with in Jammu and Kashmir.
This group had quietly enrolled for coaching under the army's initiative to give children from the state a better chance to join the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) when their friends were out on the streets..
General Rawat hoped there were more like them in Kashmir.
"They (the youth) should either have a laptop or a book. Whatever time they get they should devote to studies," General Rawat told the young students according to Press Trust of India, his remarks aimed at the youth back home who have been turning up on the streets in Kashmir, often with stones in their hand, to target security forces.
In recent weeks, the Army Chief has come out strongly in support of army officers using innovative measures to fight what he had called was a proxy war, a "dirty war".
On Tuesday, General Rawat also told the young students born well after militancy peaked in the 1990s that he had served in the state in 1981-82 when the "situation was good". The situation started deteriorating during his second posting between 1991 and 1993, the Army Chief said, noting that he also had stints in J-K from 2006-2008 and then from 2010-12.
"Generations have been destroyed due to this. The fear that has set in the mind of people of Kashmir and the youth... (that) a militant or the security forces will come... So you have militants on one side and security forces on the other. How long will we stay in this atmosphere? We have to put an end to it. We wish that peace is restored there and we carry out our daily work without any problem," Gen Rawat told the students who had broken all previous records this year.
An army statement said a record 26 boys and two girls from the state had cracked the IIT-JEE Mains Exam 2017 including nine cleared the IIT Advanced Exam. This was the first batch in which five girls from Kashmir valley were coached. A PTI report said the 'Super 40' students who did not clear the IIT-JEE Mains exam had made it through the state's entrance test for engineering.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.