Endorsing Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat's comments, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy on Friday said that the Army has been running de-radicalisation camps since ages.
Defending General Rawat, who was attacked incessantly by the opposition parties, which said that he cannot comment on civilian issues as he was from the defence services, Mr Reddy said the de-radicalisation camps issue indeed pertains to the army and was not a civilian issue.
"He never spoke on civilian issues. He spoke on the security angle of the country," Mr Reddy told PTI.
In the first such disclosure, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Thursday said de-radicalisation camps are operating in the country as it was necessary to isolate people who are completely radicalised.
In an address at the Raisina Dialogue, General Rawat, delving into the situation in Kashmir, said girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 years are being radicalised in the valley which he described as a matter of concern.
Several political leaders, including AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had hit out at General Rawat, saying the CDS is meddling with civilian issues.
"It (de-radicalisation) is the responsibility of the Army.... These (camps) are there for a long time. It is part of their (army) service. They will go to places which have been identified as radicalised and organise medical camps, offer them educational guidance and counsel parents. Our military personnel always do this," Mr Reddy said.
The minister further said all these services are offered as part of the de-radicalisation programme of the youth.
Speaking at a public meeting at Adilabad on Thursday night, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said de-radicalisation was needed for those who lynch and kill innocent Dalits and Muslims.
"This is deeply condemnable and shocking. A military commander has no business saying this. It shows the weakness of the political leadership and is detrimental to India's case on Kashmir," Mr Yechury tweeted on Thursday.
General Rawat had further said that containing radicalisation is the key to effectively combat terrorism, adding that radicalised young people were involved in pelting stones at security forces in Kashmir.