The CPM has castigated Army Chief Bipin Rawat's justification for use of a human shield in Kashmir recently saying he reflected the views of the Modi government, which seeks to "suppress" the people there. The comments drew sharp reactions from the BJP, which accused the Marxist party of standing with separatists instead of the Army.
Raking up the issue nearly two months later, the former CPM general secretary said not only the people of Kashmir but the Army itself will suffer "irreparable damage due to the government's blind adherence to the use of coercive force against the civilian population".
Coming close on the heels of the comments of scholar Partha Chatterjee, who compared Rawat to British General Dyer — infamous for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the BJP lashed out at Karat. "Instead of standing with forces, the Army, CPM wants to stand with terrorists and separatists. Has CPM's real name become China-Pak Mouthpiece?" asked its spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.
In an editorial in the CPM mouthpiece 'People's Democracy', Karat said Gen Rawat made no distinction between young protestors throwing stones and armed terrorists. "To taunt protestors to take up arms, so that the Army could deal with them appropriately, is a needless provocation and displays an attitude which is unbecoming of a senior Army officer," he said.
Referring to Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to a jeep as a shield, Karat said former serving generals of the Army have decried the use of the civilian as a human shield. "They have correctly pointed out that the Army cannot treat its own people in such a manner," he said.