The Army today defended its chief General Bipin Rawat's remarks on the influx of Bangladeshis into Assam and the rise of a political party there which triggered a row, saying there was nothing "political or religious" about his comments.
While referring to "planned" influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast, General Rawat, in an address at a seminar yesterday, talked about increase in Muslim population in several districts of Assam and rise of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a political party which champions the cause of community.
“There is nothing political or religious in the talk. The Chief of Army Staff just mentioned amalgamation and development (of the region) in the seminar on the Northeast organised at the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) Bhawan," said an Army source.
Defending the Army Chief's comments, the source said even Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has spoken about amalgamation and development of the region.
AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal took strong objection to General Rawat's comments, saying the Army Chief has made a political statement which is "shocking".
"Gen Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic & secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties," Ajmal tweeted.
In his address at the seminar on "Bridging gaps and securing borders in the Northeast region", Gen Rawat said growth of AIUDF has been "faster" than growth of the BJP in 1980s. He said the "planned" influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast is taking place as part of a proxy warfare by Pakistan with support from China, to keep the area disturbed.
"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," General Rawat had said, while referring to the BJP winning only 2 seats in 1984. "The AIDUF is moving at a faster pace in Assam."
The AIUDF, which was formed in 2005 with an aim to champion the cause of Muslim community, currently has three parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and 13 legislators in the state assembly.
The Army chief said the solution to the problem lies in ensuring development of the region by taking a holistic approach.
"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 had said.
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".
"The government is looking at the Northeast in correct perspective, and if that happens, time will not be far that we will be able to amalgamate the region and ensure development. And with development comes the control of the people who are residing in this area," he said.