Armed forces should maintain neutrality

Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s criticism of violence during protests over the amended citizenship law is political in nature and easily avoidable. Gen Rawat, speaking at an event in Delhi on Thursday said “leaders are not those who lead masses in arson and violence.” At least 21 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. The protests, which erupted from Northeast India, have spread across the country.
The Indian Army has a rich tradition of keeping out of political debates. But unfortunately, under the present chief, this tradition has been broken. This is not the first time that Gen Rawat has made such kind of politically loaded statement. The opposition parties today latched onto his statement and came down hard on him. It is very sad to see the office of the Indian Army chief being dragged into a political debate. This is uncalled for and should be avoided to maintain the rich tradition of the armed forces. The people of India always look upto the armed forces with a lot of respect and admiration. Since its existence, the Army has always maintained its secular credentials and has remained apolitical. The Army leadership should take a collective call in this regard and work hard to maintain political neutrality. It is not in the interest of the nation for the armed forces to interfere in political affairs. Else there will be no difference between the armies of India, China and Pakistan.