New Delhi: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Thursday landed in fresh controversy when he publicly criticised people leading protests over the new Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. However, the remark from the Army chief did not go down well with the Opposition members with many demanding unconditional apology from the officer.
Apart from political leaders, many activists and military veterans also accused Rawat of making politically sensitive remarks, compromising the long-held convention in the Army of not wading into political matters. Here are the top reactions:
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “Army Chief’s remark on CAA is highly objectionable, unethical and beyond his remit, he is appeared to be a BJP leader who is going to be promoted or rewarded as CDS. Rawat needs to be restrained to maintain the impartiality of our army.”
Digvijaya Singh: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was te first leader to slam Rawat, saying “I agree General Saheb but also Leaders are not those who allow their followers to indulge in genocide of communal violence (sic). Do you agree with me General Saheb?”
Asaduddin Owaisi: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also took exception to Gen Rawat’s remarks and stated that the Army chief had undermined the Central government with his remarks. “Everyone has the right to protest. Even Prime Minister claims that he protested during the emergency. If there is violence during the protest, there is police to control it. Why is the India Army interfering in civilian matter,” he asked.
D Raja: Along with other Left party leaders, CPI General Secretary D Raja on Thursday slammed Rawat for his remarks and said Rawat as the head of the Indian Army should not have commented on what was a political issue. “He is the chief of the Indian Army and not of any political party. His mandate is to safeguard the borders and not to make such political comments. He has criticised the leadership of the protest, clearly siding with the ruling party,” D Raja said.
Yogendra Yadav: Rights activist Yogendra Yadav also slammed the Army chief for the remark on Twitter, saying, “I agree with him, yes leaders should lead (people) in the appropriate direction. I am absolutely sure, he has the prime minister of this country in mind when talking about that.”
Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas: Apart from political leaders, Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas said that Rawat was absolutely wrong in making such remarks. “The rule is very clear that we are serving the country and not political forces, and to express any political views as we have heard today are quite a wrong thing for any serving personnel whether he is the top gun or at the bottom rank. It is not proper,” Ramdas told PTI.
The sharp remarks from the political leaders came after Rawat in the national capital earlier in the day said leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns.
Indian Army: After receiving sharp criticism, the Indian Army later released a statement saying Rawat’s remark was not in reference to the CAA. “He has not referred to any political event, personality. He was addressing the future citizens of India who are students. (It is his) righteous duty to guide students on whom shall depend the future of the nation. In Kashmir valley, youths were misguided the first, by people whom they trusted as leaders,” the Army statement said.