Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has courted controversy with his “political” criticism of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which have refused to die down even after over two weeks of violence across the nation.

General Rawat, who is due to retire on December 31, has spoken for the first time against the massive nationwide protests against the Citizenship Act.

At an event in Delhi on Thursday, Rawat said that “leaders are not those who lead the people in inappropriate direction”.

“Leadership is all about leading. When you move forward, everybody follows… But leaders are those who lead people in the right direction. Leaders are not those people who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership,” he said.

Reacting to his criticism, a spokesperson of the Congress, Brijesh Kalappa tweeted that an Army chief speaking against CAA protests was “against democracy”.

Army Chief General Rawat’s comments on the anti-CAA protests also came in for sharp criticism from Congress Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh.

Tweeting his response to the Army Chief’s comments, Singh said: “I agree General Saheb but also leaders are not those who allow their followers to indulge in Genocide of Communal Violence. Do you agree with me General Saheb? (sic)”

AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi in a tweet lashed out saying that “Leadership is knowing the limits of one’s office, understanding the idea civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution that one heads”.

Further speaking to media persons, Owaisi said that the Army chief’s statement undermines the Modi government.

“Our Prime Minister writes on his website that as a student he participated in protest during the emergency. Then, according to Army Chief’s statement that was also wrong,” he said.