Here Are 5 Times Army Chief Bipin Rawat Made Political Statements
There are certain regulations and restrictions on the fundamental rights of armed forces under Chapter IV of The Army Rules, 1954, that prevents members of the armed forces from making any political statements.
However, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Bipin Rawat on December 26 commented on the ongoing anti-CAA protests and said that students are being led into “inappropriate directions.” He made his statement while speaking at a healthcare leadership summit in New Delhi.
“Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing a large number of university and college students. The way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in cities and towns. This is not leadership.”
This sparked a huge controversy as this was not the first time the COAS had made statements outside of his line of duty. As media houses and news reporters caught on to his words, ‘army sources’ began circulating the following points to douse the fire –
*The chief has not referred to the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act.)
*He has not referred to any political event or personality.
*He was addressing the future citizens of India who are students.
*It is his righteous duty to guide students on whom depend the future of the nation.
*In the Kashmir Valley, youths were misguided by people whom they trusted as leaders.
Nevertheless, he is still not allowed to address the press over any matter civilian or related to national security, by the responsibility vested in him by The Army Rules of 1954.
General Rawat has found himself embroiled in many such contentious debates due to his comments on sensitive topics he is prohibited from indulging in, by virtue of the law and his uniform.
But, the rules have not stopped him from erring time and again. Here are other instances where he made controversial statements:
October 2019: ‘PoK Is Terrorist Controlled’
“The territory (PoK) occupied by Pakistan is not controlled by the Pakistan establishment but it is controlled by terrorists. PoK is actually a terrorist-controlled part of Pakistan,” the Indian Army chief had said during a lecture in New Delhi.
This drew the attention of Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor who attacked the Indian Army chief of repeatedly issuing ‘irresponsible statements to strengthen his candidacy’ for the newly proposed post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
The Indian COAS was accused of repeatedly ‘provoking war through irresponsible statements endangering regional peace for electioneering of political masters’, adding that he was hoping to become Indian CDS at the ‘cost of professional military ethos’.
Indian COAS repeatedly provoking war through irresponsible statements endangering regional peace for electioneering of political masters. From fake surgical strike todate his only success has been to turn Indian Army into a rogue force and getting them killed.(1of2).
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) October 25, 2019
September 2019: ‘No Clampdown In Kashmir’
While addressing a press briefing at the Officer’s Training Academy in Chennai, General Bipin Rawat dismissed that there is a clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir.
“A façade has been created through a fear psychosis by terrorists, and they want to project to the people of Kashmir and the rest of India that harsh measures were being undertaken which is not the truth and far from reality,” he had said.
CPI’s A Raja was quick to react and criticised the General by questioning his denial of the clampdown. “I don’t know what the Army Chief is saying. Telephones are not working. When we were there we couldn’t contact our people sitting in Srinagar,” Raja said.
February 2018: ‘AIUDF Growing Fast Because Of Muslim Migrants’
Bipin Rawat had stirred a very serious row in 2018 when he remarked that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has been growing faster than the BJP in Assam because of the support of Muslims, with Pakistan and China pushing Bangladeshi migrants into the North-east part of the country to destabilise India.
The BJP said that the army chief needs to be saluted for his comment.
In response, the AIUDF chief, Badruddin Ajmal told reporters in Guwahati: “We respect General Rawat a lot but I think he has been misinformed and misguided. If the Army chief is saying demographic change is happening in Assam, it is the government’s job to check it. We are the only party which said, 'Shoot anyone who infiltrates our borders’.”
Badruddin Ajmal, AIUDF Chief: Army Gen Bipin Rawat has been misled about our party. We are concerned about his remark. We have members from all religions in our party. No one has the right to question our nationality. #ArmyAbovePolitics pic.twitter.com/tMsaJUs2o2
— News18 (@CNNnews18) February 22, 2018
General Rawat, speaking at a seminar on ‘North East Region of India — Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders’, organised by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies and Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff of the Ministry of Defence, said: “I don’t think you can now change the population dynamics of this area. If it was five districts to eight to nine… the inversion has taken place, whichever be the government.”
“There is a party called AIUDF, if you look at… they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP has grown over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two Members of Parliament and where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam. Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we will have to take a call,” he had said.
Subsequently, AIUDF official account shared a post on Facebook which read, “General Bipin Rawat has made a political statement! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties. By making such a statement, isn’t the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him?” the post read.
January 2018: ‘Dokalam Is Disputed Between Bhutan And China’
The COAS had called Dokalam a ‘disputed territory’ between Bhutan and China and called for a shift of military attention toward the Line of Actual Control (LAC) shared with China, from the Line of Control (LoC) shared with Pakistan.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang reacted to the Indian General’s comments calling them ‘unconstructive’ and ‘unhelpful’.
“Last year, India-China relations have witnessed some twists and turns and the dialogue and consultation have shown sound momentum of improvement and development,” he had said.
“Under such background, the unconstructive remarks by the Indian senior official (General Rawat) not only go against the consensus reached by the two heads of state but also do not conform to the efforts made by the two sides to improve and develop bilateral relations,” Lu had retorted.