Army Chief hits out at those leading violent protests over CAA, triggers criticism


New Delhi: It is not leadership if leaders guide masses, comprising university and college students, to carry out arson and violence in our cities, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said on Thursday while commenting on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Leaders emerge from crowds but are not those who lead people in “inappropriate directions”, added the Army chief while addressing a gathering at a health summit here.

He said leaders are those who lead people in the right direction.

After both houses of Parliament approved amendments to the citizenship law earlier this month, protests – sometimes violent – have taken place across the country.

Multiple protesters have been injured and have died in these protests, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

“What is so complex about leadership, if it is all about leading. Because when you move forward, everybody follows. It is not that simple. It appears simple, but it is a complex phenomenon,” Rawat said in his speech.

“Even amongst the crowd, you find that leaders emerge. But leaders are those who lead people in the right direction. Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions,” he added.

Giving the example of ongoing protests by a large number of university and college students, the Army Chief said the way masses of crowds are being led to carry out arson and violence in cities and towns is not leadership.

The Army Chief’s comments drew a strong reaction from political leaders. Congress leader Manish Tewari said the remarks undermined civil-military relations. “Since when have Army Chiefs started commenting about internal affairs? It undermines civil-military relations whose cornerstone is that Armed Forces neither comment or interfere in domestic politics. This has been our singular success going back to 1947,” Tewari tweeted.

Reacting to the Army Chief’s remarks, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, “Leadership is knowing the limits of one’s office. It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy.”