CAA protests: Ex-army officers, bureaucrats call for action against those creating 'vicious atmosphere'

Delegation meets President Kovind; wants stern action against 'vested groups'

CAA-delegation A team of delegates comprising civil servants, bureaucrats, Army officers, diplomats and retired judges briefing media after meeting President Ramnath Kovind on CAA protests in New Delhi on Friday | Arvind Jain

A delagation of 154 former judges, civil servants, armed forces officers, diplomats and intellectuals on Friday made a representation to President Ram Nath Kovind on what they called was an effort to create a “vicious atmosphere” in the country with regard to Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) by “vested groups”, and seeking stern action against such forces. “Self-serving elements, in conjunction with a section of civil society, have embarked upon a malicious campaign of disinformation to mislead the innocent Indian public, especially the youth and a section of minorities, with a false and nefarious narrative about some recently enacted legislation like CAA, NPR and NRC for all Indians,” the delegation stated in its representation to the President.

The delegation said that the protests, while ostensibly claiming to oppose the policies of the Central government, are in effect, designed to destroy the very fabric of this country and harm the nation's unity and integrity. “We strongly feel that there is also an external dimension to the disturbances being created. We therefore, request the Government of India to look into this matter with all seriousness and safeguard the democratic institutions of the country and take stern action against such forces,” it said.

The group praised the Narendra Modi government for the “remarkable work” it has done in the last six years in spreading the country's ancient message across the globe that the world is one family. It said domestically, the present regime has taken certain long-pending decisions, with the objective of removing impediments for the fast track growth of the country, thereby energising the system and putting the nation on path to becoming a global power. 

It listed efforts to abolish instant Triple Talaq, abrogation of the speical status for the state of Jammua and Kashmir, and “maintaining goodwill in society” after the apex court's verdict on Ayodhya amongst the government's achievements.

In a strong critique of the anti-establishment voices, especially the protests against CAA-NRC, the delegation said, “Whenever Indian society has faced challenges on its borders and encountered the onslaught of some of the foreign invaders, it was more because of internal chicanery of individuals and small groups of people for their personal agendas and benefits.”

It said a reference is being made in a “malafide manner” to Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, with regard to CAA, with a “deliberate design to misguide and provoke the masses”. "The fear mongering which is being spread across the length and breadth of India appears to be motivated and with a sinister design to harm the nation," the representation said.

Among the signatories to the representation were eleven retired judges, including former Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court and Chairman CAT Justice Pramod Kohli, former High Court judges Justices M C Garg, S N Srivastav,  D K Trivedi, S N Dhingra, M Ramachandran, V Chitambaresh, H H Mehta, Ravi R Tripathi and H R Shelat, and former Lokayukta S M Soni.

The representation was signed by 72 former civil servants, including former Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain, former Chief Secretary, Punjab, Sarvesh Kaushal, former Secretary, Government of India, R Ramakrishna, and retired Additional Chief Secretary, Haryana, G Prasanna Kumar, former Ambassadors G S Iyer, Vidya Sagar Verma, Ashok Kumar, Bhaswati Mukherjee, J K Tripathi and Madhava Chandra, former RAW chief Sanjiv Tripathi, former Special Secretary-MHA Mahesh Singla, former DG-ITBP S K Kain, former Haryana DGP Sudhir Chowdhary, and former Kerala DGP R Padmanabhan.

As many as 56 retired armed forces officers, including former Deputy Chief of Army Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh, former GOC-in-C, S Western Command Lt Gen P K Singh, former DGMS (Army) Lt Gen M Ganguly, Vice Chief of Air Staff P K Roy, and former AOC-in-C Southern Air Command Air Marshal Sumit Mukherjee were amongst the signatories.

The representation was also signed by 15 academics, including former Vice Chancellor IGNOU, Prof K K Agarwal, former VC GGU, Bilaspur, Prof J L Gupta, former D G ASI, B B Lal, former DG National Museum, B R Mani and former NCW Chairperson Lalitha Kumara Mangalam.