Social media users were divided over Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat's comments on citizenship law protest. Some backed him in the name of nationalism, while some criticised him for being biased towards government despite holding an office

Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s views on the protests and the subsequent violence over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act has ricocheted on into social media. Users are divided since some support General Rawat’s views and the critics who have slammed him for commenting on a issue that has taken political centre stage.

Speaking at an event in New Delhi, Army chief General Bipin Rawat condemned the violence and destruction of public property during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its link to the much-feared National Register of Citizens (NRC). General Rawat said those who exhort the masses in indulging in arson and violence are not leaders.

For his comments, which supported the government’s stance against violent protests, social media users called out the Army chief for taking sides when occupying an office that had been entirely apolitical through independent history unlike in Pakistan. General Rawat is due to retire on December 31 and would be succeeded by Manoj Mukund Naravane as the new Army chief. General Rawat is the front runner for the newly-created post of Chief of Defence Staff.

In his speech, the Army chief said leadership is all about leading and showing the correct path as when he moves, everybody follows. People who take the movement in an inappropriate direction are not called leaders. Recently, it was witnessed how university and college students led the masses to carry out arson and violence in several cities, he said. This is not leadership, General Rawat said.

After the Army chief’s statement, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi was among the first to object to his statement. Quoting PM Modi from his website, Owaisi said Prime Minister Modi himself had written on his website that as a student he participated in a protest during the Emergency, did he also do wrong?

Another user said it looks like Army chief forgot to read Chapter 4 (Restrictions of Fundamental Rights) Sec. 21(ii) of the Army Rules, 1954 and asked did he take prior sanction of the Central government before expressing his views and commenting on anti-CAA protests?

On the other hand, some people supported the Army chief asking if speaking the truth is a sin for soldiers? What’s wrong if General Bipin Rawat said leaders aren’t those who lead people in an inappropriate direction as we are seeing few students leading crowds to carry out violence in cities.