Partha Chatterjee Likens Army Chief Rawat to Gen Dyer, Draws Ire

Bipin Rawat has supported acts of violence in Kashmir the way Gen Dyer defended Jallianwala Bagh, argues Chatterjee.

2 min read
Historian Partha Chatterjee has drawn flak for comparing Army Chief Bipin Rawat to General Dyer. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

Every Indian recognises the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as an act of unprovoked violence propagated by General Dyer of the British Indian Army.

Nearly a century later, scholar, political theorist and historian Partha Chatterjee seems to think the situation in Kashmir is not so far off from the 1919 massacre – an opinion for which he has received great flak.

In an article in The Wire, Chatterjee draws a comparison between what happened in Amritsar in 1919 to a recent incident when Indian Army’s Major Gogoi tied a local Kashmiri man, Farooq Ahmad Dar, to the front of his jeep – using him as a human shield against “stone-pelters”.

Chatterjee writes that Rawat’s defence of this act is not unlike British support for Dyer, and the General’s justification for the massacre.

He writes that Army Chief Bipin Rawat – backed by leaders from the ruling party – defended Gogoi’s actions in the same manner that General Dyer defended the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Dyer had said that the incident was a part of his “distasteful and horrible duty”.

What’s unprecedented, as Chatterjee points out, is that Rawat awarded Gogoi a commendation for his “distinguished services in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir”. Gogoi was honoured even before a verdict on the ongoing inquiry in the incident could be given.

In Major Gogoi’s case, even though the Army has set up a court of inquiry, it is the political leadership that has most vociferously defended his cause. Arun Jaitley, the defence minister, said that when there was “a war-like situation”, military officers should be allowed to make their own decisions... Major Gogoi himself was allowed, perhaps even encouraged, to defend his action in the public media even as the inquiry against him was on.
Excerpt from Chatterjee’s article

Rawat had said that Gogoi’s actions were an “innovative way” to fight a “dirty war”.

“It is a dirty war,” the general said. “That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovations.” When Major Gogoi decided to use a civilian as a human shield, he had in fact invented an innovative tactic by which he could protect his men from the stone-throwing crowd without shooting at it. “If my men ask me what do we do, should I say, just wait and die? I will come with a nice coffin with a national flag and I will send your bodies home with honour. Is it what I am supposed to tell them as chief?”
Excerpt from Chatterjee’s article

Chatterjee’s article has drawn criticism on social media from mediapersons and politicians alike.

Chatterjee later responded to the criticism. ANI quoted him as saying:

If I need to clarify or change anything, then I will write again.

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