Army chief Bipin Rawat says Pakistan, China playing proxy war in India’s Northeast; political row erupts

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New Delhi | Updated: February 22, 2018 3:12:36 PM

Speaking about India's Northeast in a conference at DRDO Bhavan in Delhi, General Rawat said that Pakistan, with the support of China, is playing a proxy war in India's Northeast

Army chief general Bipin RawatArmy chief general Bipin Rawat. (ANI)

The comments of Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat at a conference in Delhi on Wednesday has triggered a big row. Speaking about India’s Northeast in a conference at DRDO Bhavan in Delhi, General Rawat said that Pakistan, with the support of China, is playing a proxy war in India’s Northeast and the influx of people in the region from Bangladesh is “planned.”

The Army chief said that the “planned immigration” is taking place in Northeast because of Pakistan. He also said  Islamabad will “always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare,” according to PTI. While talking about the influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast, the Army chief said the “proxy game” is being “very well” played by Pakistan, which is supported by China, to keep India’s Northeast disturbed. Talking about the solution, the Army chief called for “identifying the problem” and looking at it “holistically”.

General Rawat said migration from Bangladesh was happening because of two reasons: First, they are running out of space. Second, large areas get flooded during the monsoon and they have constricted area to stay.

General Rawat also referred to the reported increase in Muslim population in many Assam districts and allegedly connected it with the rise of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Badruddin Ajmal. The Army chief said AIUDF has grown “faster” than the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 1980s.

The BJP had won only two seats in 1984. The AIUDF, which was formed in 2005, has three members of Parliament and 13 MLAs. The AIUDF has championed the cause of Muslims.

The Army chief’s remarks have, however, not gone down well with many political parties including the AIUDF and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. They have accused Army chief of targetting a particular religion and making political statements.

AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam told ANI that his party works for the “downtrodden” and that is why its popularity is “growing faster than BJP.” Accusing the Army chief of making a political statement, Islam said he is hopeful that AIUDF would soon come to power in Assam.

“What, the Army Chief should not interfere in political matters it is not his work to comment on the rise of a political party, Democracy & Constitution allows it and Army will always work under an Elected Civilian leadership,” Owaisi tweeted.

Tehseen Poonawalla of the Congress tweeted, “Army chief making political statements is unacceptable in democracy. Anything the Army Chief wants to convey, he can do so to @PMOIndia . His statement can damage our relations with Bangladesh, our true friend and a relationship in which @narendramodi ji has invested a lot.”

“I did not that as an Army Chief it was Gen. Bipin Rawat ji’s job to be concerend about the growth of the BJP apart from also (maybe) securing India ‘s defence. Following on the footsteps of the great,” Poonawalla further said.

Meanwhile, the Army has clarified that general Rawat’s remarks were neither “religious” or “political”.

AIUDF head Badruddin Ajmal posted a series of tweets, saying, “Gen Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic & secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties.By making such statement, isn’t the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him. @rashtrapatibhvn @PMOIndia please take note.”

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