Army chief told to mind his business

General should deliver, keep off schools: J&K minister

The army chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat, in Gurgaon on Saturday. (PTI)

Srinagar: A senior minister in the Mehbooba Mufti government on Saturday hit out at the army chief, General Bipin Rawat, asking him not to "issue sermons" or make comments "beyond his constitutional mandate".

Rawat had said in New Delhi on Friday that social media and government schools in Jammu and Kashmir were spreading a "disinformation campaign" resulting in radicalisation of youths. He had called for "some control" over mosques and madarsas in the state and suggested a "major revamp" of the education system.

Jammu and Kashmir education minister Altaf Bukhari said Rawat was a professional and that he had "no doubts about his professionalism" before taking the general on.

"I do not think he is an educationist that he will give sermons on education. I do not think any society accepts sermons on education from non-academics. I will welcome sermons from academics on how to run the education system," said Bukhari, a key aide of Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba, an ally of the BJP.

He told the army chief to stop commenting on issues other than security, saying "any trespass beyond the defined mandates is tantamount to committing brazen injustice to the duties assigned to people by the Constitution".

"I think those sermonising to us should perform their duties in a more professional manner in order to ease the sufferings of the common man in Jammu and Kashmir. The army has its own role and let it play it with the utmost responsibility," he added.

Rawat had highlighted that government schools in Jammu and Kashmir had a map of the state beside that of India in classrooms, and suggested that it bred separatism. "Why should there be a separate map of J&K? (And if there has to be one) then there should be a map of every state," he had said.

Bukhari said the students were indeed provided with two maps but added that Rawat's observations were "totally unfair and unacceptable".

He said education was a state subject under the Constitution, and so it fell within the state's domain.

"The Constitution of India has given different roles to different people. I will be glad if they (the army) do what they are supposed to do and leave us to do what we are supposed to do," Bukhari said.

"We know how to run our education system.... Jammu and Kashmir has a capable chief minister. If she finds any room for improvement, she can pinpoint them and order corrective measures," Bukhari added.

The minister claimed that schools in other states too had two types of maps to help students learn about the country and that particular state.

Bukhari's comments come days after senior politicians from the ruling People's Democratic Party condemned the killings of militants and hailed them as martyrs.

Wachi MLA Aijaz Ahmad Mir had said on Thursday that nobody should celebrate the death of militants, calling them "brothers".

"I believe that the militants are residents of Jammu and Kashmir. They are our children and we should not be happy about their deaths.... Whoever is a Kashmiri and is killed under whatever circumstances is a martyr," he said.

Earlier, the party's chief spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, had condemned and regretted the deaths of militants as well as policemen and hoped the killings would stop.


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