Did Army Chief Bipin Rawat's remark on CAA protest violate Section 21 of Army Act?
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat/ Facebook

As remarks by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on the ongoing Citzenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 drew controversy, several veterans and politicians argue that the Army Chief violated the Section 21 of the Army Rule 1954.

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

The Indian Army volunteer force which is expected to refrain themselves from political scenarios. Section 21 of the Army Act prohibits any Army personnel from attending or addressing any meeting or participating in any demonstration organised for any political or other purposes. In addition to this, it also bars them from communicating with the press or publishing any book related to any political question.

However, the law states that this can be done only with the prior sanction of the Central government, but Rawat's case it is not clear whether he was authorised to make remarks on the student protests.

As reported by Firstpost, the Army statement said, "He has not referred to any political event, personality. He was addressing the future citizens of India who are students. (It is his) righteous duty to guide students on whom shall depend the future of the nation. In the Kashmir Valley, youths were misguided the first, by people whom they trusted as leaders."

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

Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas on Thursday termed as "wrong" Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat's remarks against the nationwide protests over the new citizenship law, saying people in the armed forces must follow the decades-old principle of serving the country and not any political forces.

"The rule is very clear that we are serving the country and not the political forces and to express any political views as we have heard today are quite a wrong thing for any serving personnel whether he is the top gun or at the bottom rank. It is not proper," Ramdas told PTI.

Rawat's comment didn't go down well, neither with the Opposition nor on Twitter. "Leadership is knowing the limits of one’s office. It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy & preserving the integrity of the institution that you head," wrote AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

"The difference between India and Pakistan is our army is apolitical. This bunch is destroying that too. This damage is irreparable," wrote a Twitter user. While another user asked, "Is he army chief or RSS goon".

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