While several politicians have claimed that COAS General Bipin Rawat's comments on Thursday regarding the anti-CAA protest violence has crossed a line, similar sentiments were echoed by India's first Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw. Speaking at the Defence Services College, Wellington on 11 November 1998, Maneshaw had stated that there was a shortage of leadership on all fronts while delivering a lecture on 'Leadership and Discipline'. He stated this shortage was responsible for all shortages and is generally glossed over.
"One shortage which is responsible for all these shortages is generally glossed over - which is the shortage of leadership. When I talk of a shortage of leadership, I do not mean just the shortage of political leadership, I mean leadership in every walk of life. Be it political, administrative, in educational institutions, in industries, among labour, amongst the law and order contingence, there is a shortage of leadership," he said.
Earlier in the day, Rawat slammed the violence that plagued several college and university campuses during the weeks-long anti-CAA agitation across India. Addressing an event in New Delhi, Rawat said that those who lead students to commit violence and arson do not represent leadership. This is the first comment made by the Army chief on the agitation around the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
"Leaders are those who lead people in the right direction. Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions. We are witnessing a large number of college and university students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out violence and arson in our cities and towns. This is not leadership," General Rawat said.
Adding to this, the Army chief said, "A leader is one person who leads you in the correct direction, gives you the right advice and then ensures that you care for the people you lead. Leadership is through personal example and that is what we in the armed forces are proud of". His comments have been condemned by the CPI(M) and AIMIM calling it Army's interference in politics.
Over 20 people have died in the protests due to the anti-CAA violence across the nation in three weeks, over 10 times higher than the Hong Kong protests (2 deaths) which have been ongoing since March 2019. UP police have detained 5,500 people and arrested 925 to date in that state alone. The CAA seeks to provide citizenship to the minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.