Hyderabad: Close to his retirement, India’s Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat criticised the violence reported during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Army chief, on Thursday, said, “Leaders are not those who lead masses in arson and violence.” However, many had called him out for taking sides while he still held the position. Notably, officials serving in the defence sector must be apolitical and neutral.

While delivering an address, General Bipin Rawat said, “Leadership is all about leading. When you move forward, everybody follows. But leaders are those who lead people in the right direction. Leaders are not those people 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. This is not leadership (sic).”

It is the first time that the outgoing Army Chief has spoken in connection with the CAA and the spree of protest registered against the new Act. The General’s statement has not gone down well with the opposition and citizens. Brijesh Kalappa, a Congress spokesperson, tweeted, “Army Chief Bipin Rawat speaking against CAA protests is wholly against a Constitutional democracy. If the Army Chief is allowed to speak on political issues today, it also permits him to attempt an army takeover tomorrow!”

Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, commented, “Leadership is knowing the limits of one’s office. It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution that you head.” The MP has announced to hold a massive rally in Bihar.

The death toll in anti-CAA protest in Uttar Pradesh has increased to 21 as on December 26. Fresh agitation broke out in Bengaluru, West Bengal, Mumbai, and Delhi. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is leading the protest in West Bengal. It is the sixth anti-CAA protest in the last ten days.

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