“Why Should I React?”: Nirmala Sitharaman On Army Chief’s Comment

Lucknow/ New Delhi:  Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today steered clear of Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s comments on the rise of a political party that champions the cause of Muslims in the northeast, saying she would not like to react to it.”I don’t want to react to anything…Somebody said something, somebody talking about….why should I react?” she told journalists on the sidelines of Uttar Pradesh Investors Summit when she was asked to comment on General Rawat’s remarks.

In comments that have provoked political reactions, the Army Chief referred to reports of an increase in 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 the 1984 national election. “The AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in Assam.”

The AIUDF, formed in 2005, has three members in parliament and 13 legislators in the Assam assembly.

“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,” Gen Bipin Rawat said, referring to districts in Assam that have a Muslim majority.

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.

“A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbor. 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.

To check the influx of Bangladeshis, Assam is developing a national register of citizens.

General Bipin Rawat said the centre was “seriously taking several measures to ensure development of the region”, which would “take care of a lot of things”.

Efforts should be to “amalgamate” the people living in the region, he said, 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.”

Army sources said there was nothing controversial in what the General Bipin Rawat said, that he had just mentioned “amalgamation and development”.

Badruddin Ajmal, reacting to the Army Chief’s comments on his party, had tweeted: “General Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the army chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties.”

(With Inputs From PTI)


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