General Rawat is again facing heat for his contended remarks on Assam at a seminar organized by Ministry of Defence. To quote what he said, “I don’t think you can now change the population dynamics of this area. If it was five districts to eight to nine… the inversion has taken place, whichever be the government.” At another place, he is quoted saying, “There is a party called AIUDF, if you look at… they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP has grown over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two Members of Parliament and where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam. Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we will have to take a call.” He also says, “I think we have to understand, we got to appreciate to live with all the people we live in the region, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or sex. I think if we understand that, we can live together happily but the best part is to amalgamate the kind of people that are living there, than identifying the people trying to create trouble for us.”
He adds, “We will have more trouble in segregating people, identifying people. Yes, some people have to be identified who are creating trouble for us, who are illegal immigrants. But as was brought out, the Muslim population actually started coming into Assam from 1218 to 1226, that was the first time that the Muslims actually entered Assam. We have to understand that they are not late arrivers, they are the early arrivers, came concurrently with the Ahoms. Both these people have claim to the state of Assam and, therefore, to the North-East region.”
His remarks on migration were, “Migration from Bangladesh is due to two reasons. One is they are running out of space. Large areas get flooded during the monsoon and they have constricted area to stay. The other issue is planned immigration, which is taking place because of our western neighbour. They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over. It is the proxy dimension of warfare.”
He took a subtle hit at China and Pakistan by saying, “This proxy game is being played very well by our western neighbour, supported also by our northern neighbor.”
He has been accused of commenting on “rise in the Muslim population” with “disturbing” remarks. In what context his remarks are disturbing, or on what ground his remarks are as such, is elusive. Yes, he did comment on the rise of political parties and as an army person, people would not expect him to talk politics (what about politics in army, and General Bakshi’s supersession?), but he talked about the rise of ruling party in the same breath he talked about the rise of AIUDF. If he did comment of “rise of the Muslim population” (which is interpreted by his remark on growth of AIUDF), he commented on “growth of Hindu population” as well (which SHOULD be interpreted by his remark on growth of BJP). When did propaganda became a one-way street?
On the contrary, to quote him exactly, “But as was brought out, the Muslim population actually started coming into Assam from 1218 to 1226, that was the first time that the Muslims actually entered Assam. We have to understand that they are not late arrivers, they are the early arrivers, came concurrently with the Ahoms. Both these people have claim to the state of Assam and, therefore, to the North-East region.” Someone who is into plain reading would say Assam has to be claimed by Muslims as it would be done by Ahoms. That is a very positive and asserting statement which is even backed by a fact (when did Muslims arrive).
General Rawat has had his foot-in-the-mouth moments, but not for what he said on Assam.