A planned influx of people from Bangladesh into India's north-eastern region is underway as part of a proxy war being waged by Pakistan, with support from China, to keep the area disturbed, said Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday (Feb 21).
He made this statement while addressing a seminar in New Delhi on 'North East Region of India - Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders.'
The Army Chief pointed out the growth of All India United Democratic Front in Assam (AIUFD), as compared to the Bhartia Janta Party (PJP) in the country in the 1980s, to buttress his point on the increase in Muslim population in several districts of the state.
"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," said Gen Rawat, while referring to the BJP winning only 2 seats in 1984. "The AIDUF is moving at a faster pace in Assam," he added, during a conference on bridging gaps and securing borders in the Northeast region.
The Army chief then went on to stress that the "proxy game" was being executed by "our western neighbor (Pakistan)", with support from across the "northern border (China)", to keep the area disturbed. "They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it," he said.
Pointing out that it was no longer possible to change the population dynamics of Assam, with Muslim majority increasing from five districts earlier to eight to nine districts now, the Army chief said efforts should be made to "amalgamate" the people living in the region. The Federal government is taking several measures to ensure development of the entire region, which will help in sorting out many problems. Migration, of course, is also taking place from Bangladesh because of shrinking land space in the country due to several factors, including floods, General Rawat said.
AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal expressed shock on General Rawat's 'political statement' and asked "why the rise of a political party is a concern for the Army Chief."
"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?" Ajmal wrote on Facebook.
"Alternative parties like AIUDF, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have grown because of the mis-governance of big parties. By making such statement, isn't the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him?" he asked.
Another AIUDF leader said that the party's popularity is growing faster than the BJP because it is working for the downtrodden.
"AIUDF is working for the downtrodden. this is why our popularity is growing faster than BJP. We are hopeful that people of Assam irrespective of caste & creed, will accept AIUDF and our party will come to power soon," AIUDF MLA from Assam Aminul Islam said.
The Indian Army on Thursday (Feb. 22) clarified its Chief General Bipin Rawat's remarks. "There is nothing political or religious in the talk. Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar on Northeast organized at DRDO Bhawan," the army said.