Controversy Over Army Chief's "Political" View On Citizenship Law Protest
Army chief Bipin Rawat today criticized violence during protests over the citizenship law, saying "leaders are not those who lead masses in arson and violence". He was immediately called out for taking sides while still in a post that must be neutral and apolitical.
"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 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," said the outgoing Army chief at an event in Delhi on Thursday.
General Rawat, who is due to retire on December 31, has spoken for the first time against the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Act. But he is not the first; before him, another top army officer made politically tinged remarks.
"'The citizenship Amendment Bill was passed despite reservations from a couple of northeastern states. It would not be hard to guess that some hard decisions on left-wing extremism may be on the anvil after this,'' he had said.
At least 20 people have died, mostly in Uttar Pradesh, in clashes between protesters and the police, who have also been caught firing at the crowd in many cases.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had denounced the destruction of public property during the protests, saying rights went along with duty. "I want to ask people who resorted to violence in Uttar Pradesh to sit at home and ask themselves whether what they did is good or not. They destroyed buses and public property that belongs to the future generation," he said.
The Army Chief's comments were criticized by opposition parties like the Congress.
"Army Chief Bipin Rawat speaking against #CAAProtests is wholly against constitutional democracy. If Army Chief is allowed to speak on Political issues today, it also permits him to attempt an Army takeover tomorrow!!" - tweeted Brijesh Kalappa, a spokesperson of the Congress.
"Leadership is knowing the limits of one's office. It is about understanding the idea civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution that you head," tweeted Asaduddin Owaisi, Hyderabad MP and chief of the AIMIM.
Some who came out in General Rawat's support, however, said he was within his rights to speak as a citizen of the country. "His statement means one can protest but not be violent and destroy property. The leader of the mob should give correct direction to the protesters and tell them not to be violent," said Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, a BJP ally.
According to Article 21 of the Army Act, "no person subject to the Act shall publish in any form whatever or communicate directly or indirectly to the Press any matter in relation to a political question.''
Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane is set to become the next army chief.
General Rawat is widely tipped to be the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a post that will function as a single point of contact for different branches of the armed forces and as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-service matters.
Do you agree with him?
"Standing Up For Minorities": Over 1,000 Scholars Back Citizenship Law
Over a thousand academicians and research scholars have in a statement expressed support to the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the amended citizenship law that fast-tracks the process of giving citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries.
"The Act fulfils the long-standing demand of providing refuge to persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Ever since the failure of the Liaquat-Nehru pact of 1950, various leaders and political parties like the Congress, CPI(M) etc, cutting across the ideological spectrum, have demanded the grant of citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh who mostly belong to the Dalit castes," said the statement whose signatories include Jawaharlal Nehru University registrar Pramod Kumar, senior journalists Swapan Dasgupta and Kanchan Gupta, and Nalanda University vice chancellor Sunaina Singh.
"We congratulate the Indian parliament and government for standing up for forgotten minorities and upholding the civilizational ethos of India; providing a haven to those fleeing religious persecution," they said in the statement that contains the names of 1,100 people, who include researchers and scholars in universities in other countries.
Protests have been going on intermittently at several parts of the country - Assam and West Bengal have seen large-scale violence - after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill sailed through both houses of parliament last week. Over 15 have died in the protests across India.
Protesters in Assam, Meghalaya and other states in the north-east say tribes may be overrun by new refugee-turned-citizens in the long run and they could lose political representation. The government has said the interests of the north-east states will not be harmed by the amended law.
"We also note with satisfaction that the concerns of the North-Eastern states have been heard and are being addressed appropriately. We believe that CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) is in perfect sync with the secular constitution of India as it does not prevent any person of any religion from any country, seeking Indian citizenship. Nor does it change the criteria of citizenship in any way; merely providing a special expedited redress, under special circumstances..." the statement said.
"We also note with deep anguish, that an atmosphere of fear and paranoia is being created in the country through deliberate obfuscation and fear-mongering leading to violence in several parts of the country. We appeal to every section of society to exercise restraint and refuse to fall into the trap of propaganda, communalism and anarchism," it said.
The Congress and other opposition parties have alleged the government is working to divide people on the basis of religion. "The Modi government has no compassion when it comes to shutting down people's voices... We have an example in Delhi where Police entered the Jamia women hostel and dragged them out, it mercilessly beat students," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Friday.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from the three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the Constitution.
Do you think a rally should be organised in support for CAA, NRC, and the govt?
SC bench refuses to stay implementation of CAA; Supreme court to hear pleas in January
The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a clutch of petitions filed by several people, including Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and Tripura's Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman, challenging the constitutional validity of the newly passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) today.
A Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant refused to stay the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The Supreme Court said it would hear the pleas in January. The apex court also issued a notice to the Centre on the batch of pleas challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Ever since the bill got the President's nod, protests have erupted across several areas of India, including Delhi and Assam. Protesters are demanding scrapping of the amended citizenship law. During protests against the law in Northeast Delhi's Seelampur area on Tuesday, some miscreants set vehicles on fire, pelted stones at police personnel and damaged public properties. Police also resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters, though the situation has been brought under control, say police.
Union Minister Amit Shah has reiterated that there will be no rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Act. Officials on Wednesday said prohibitory orders have been imposed in northeast Delhi as a precautionary measure. Under the orders, assembly of four or more people is prohibited.
According to locals, there was underlying tension in the area after protests turned violent, which saw agitators pelting stones and vandalising and torching vehicles on Tuesday. Police were patrolling the area to ensure situation remains peaceful. Six arrests have been made so far, police said.
Is the hatred towards CAA and NRC bills correct?
After Delhi Clashes, A Night Of Student Protests Across India
Protests swept campuses across the country against the police crackdown at Jamia Millia Islamia after Sunday evening's violence over the new citizenship law. Students at the Aligarh Muslim University clashed with the police after their solidarity march was stopped. By midnight, Hyderabad's Maulana Azad Urdu University and the Banaras Hindu University raised their voices. In Delhi, hundreds gathered outside the Police Headquarters in response to a call from the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University. The trouble started Sunday evening after a protest march by the Jamia students ended in a pitched battle with the police, vandalism and torching of vehicles. The police, which used batons and teargas to contain the violence, later barged into the university and detained around 100 students. All the detained students were released around 3:30 am.
Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:
1. Around midnight, students at Hyderabad's Maulana Azad Urdu University and the Banaras Hindu University held protest marches.At Kolkata's Jadavpur University, the students held a midnight march through the neighbourhood. Students of the Maulana Azad Urdu University also demanded that their exams be postponed.
2. Demanding immediate release of detained students, hundreds gathered outside the Delhi Police Headquarters close to midnight, defying the freezing cold. The arterial road outside the headquarters was completely blocked by protesters and the police was standing ready with tear gas and water cannons in case the situation goes out of hand. The Delhi Police, around 3:30 am, said all the detained students have been released, following which the protesting crowd outside the Police Headquarters dispersed.
3. The escalating protests had hit the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University first, with the students, bent on holding a solidarity march, clashing with the police. Ten policemen and around 30 students were injured and the police demanded that the students vacate the hostels. Internet has been blocked in the city and the university closed till January 5.
4. The protest march had started from the Jamia Millia Islamia on Sunday evening and was expected to end at Jantar Mantar, the designated area for protests in the national capital. But violence started soon after. In full view of television cameras, the mob clashed with the police and set fire to buses and two-wheelers. In addition to students, several policemen including senior officers were injured. One of them is in the Intensive Care Unit with severe head injuries.
5. Later in the evening, the police detained around 100 students. "The police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given. Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus," said Waseem Ahmed Khan, Chief Proctor of the university.
6. Senior police officer Chinmaya Biswal told NDTV that the police entered the university only after the violent mob went inside and started throwing stones. "We were checking from where these violent activities were taking place," he said.
7. Jamia students distanced themselves from the violence and some officers of the Delhi police privately admitted that local thugs were responsible for it. In a statement, the students said, "We have time and again maintained our protests are peaceful and non-violent." The violence "by certain elements" was an attempt to vilify and discredit genuine protests, they said.
8. The trouble hit the metro services, with five stations on the city's Magenta Line - where the university is located - being closed down. Road traffic was also diverted from the area. In a Hindi tweet, Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia declared that all schools in the south east district areas including Jamia, Okhla, New Friends Colony and Madanpur Khadar, will remain closed on Monday.
9. In a tweet, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has condemned the violence. "Spoke to Hon'ble LG and urged him to take all steps to restore normalcy and peace. We are also doing everything possible at our end. Real miscreants who caused violence shud be identified and punished," a second tweet read.
10. Violence had scarred parts of the country since the citizenship law -- meant to facilitate grant of citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India -- was passed. Much of the violence had taken place in the northeastern states, Bengal and Delhi. Earlier on Sunday, at an election rally in Jharkhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the people of Assam for "staying away from violence".
Do you think student's protest against the police is correct?
Nirbhaya Convict's Petition To Be Heard By Supreme Court On Tuesday
A review petition filed by 2012 Delhi gang-rape convict Akshay Kumar Singh will be heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The request will be heard at 2 pm in an open court.
One of the four men convicted in the gang-rape, torture and killing of a young girl in Delhi seven years ago, Akshay Singh had filed a petition in the top court this week to appeal against his death sentence.
While the act of filing a last-minute review petition - the four are expected to be hanged soon - is not unusual, the petition made some rather bizarre claims, including citing Hindu religious texts and the Delhi pollution crisis as reasons why the death sentence should not be carried out.
In a 14-page Criminal Review Petition, filed by advocates on his behalf, Akshay Singh said: "Why death penalty when age is reducing... it is mentioned in our Ved, Purans and Upanishads that... people lived the life of thousand years... now it is Kalyug, in this era, age of human beings have reduced much. It has now come to 50-60 years... this is almost a true analysis... when a person faces stark realities of life, then he is no better than a dead body".
The petition went on to say the air quality in the National Capital Region was "burst and like a gas chamber" and that the poor quality of drinking water - "full of poison". "Life is going short to short, then why death penalty?" the petition asked.
Finally, the petition quoted Mahatma Gandhi's famous advice to people faced with a difficult question - "Recall the face of the poorest and most helpless man...".
Akshay Singh filed his review petition less than a week after the Delhi government and the centre rejected a mercy request by Vinay Sharma, another of the rapists. The courts have already rejected petitions from Vinay Kumar, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta.
Once the relevant legal appeals are exhausted all four will be hanged at Delhi's Tihar Jail, where preparations are already being made.
In December 2012, Akshay Singh and five others, including a juvenile male, gang-raped and tortured a 23-year-old paramedic student inside a moving bus in south Delhi. She was violated with an iron rod when she protested. Her friend was beaten severely and both were thrown out of the bus at a secluded spot; the young girl was naked and bleeding. The woman, who came to be known as Nirbhaya or "fearless", died 13 days after the assault, leaving the nation shocked and angry.