New Delhi: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s comments on the rise of a political party that champions the cause of Muslims in the northeast have set up a controversy.
Speaking at a seminar on “bridging gaps and securing borders in the Northeast region” on Wednesday, General Rawat had referred to what he said were reports of an increase in the Muslim population in several districts of Assam and talked about the rise of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Badruddin Ajmal.
“There is a party called AIUDF. If you look at it, they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years,” he said, adding that the BJP won only two seats in 1984. “The AIDUF is moving at a faster pace in Assam.”
The AIUDF, formed in 2005, has three members in parliament and 13 state legislators.
“I do not think you can now change the population dynamics of the area. If it was five districts to eight to nine, inversion has taken place whichever be the government,” he said, referring to reports that nine districts in Assam have a Muslim majority, compared to five.
The Army chief said efforts should be to “amalgamate” the people living in the region and then try and “start identifying those creating trouble for us”.
“We will have more problem in segregating people. Yes some people will have to be identified who are creating trouble for us.”
Sources in the Army, in response to the strong reactions to General Rawat’s comments, say there is “nothing political or religious” in what he said. The Army Chief just mentioned “amalgamation and development” in the Seminar.
The Army Chief also said the influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast was planned, and part of proxy warfare by Pakistan with support from China in an attempt “to keep the area disturbed”.
“A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbour. They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare. I think the proxy game is very well played by our western neighbour, supported by our northern border (China) to keep the area disturbed. We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it,” he said.
The influx of Bangladeshis is a huge challenge in Assam and the state government is now coming out with a national register of citizens to track down those living illegally in the state.