Faced with a barrage of criticism from various quarters over his statements on cross-LoC strikes by the Army, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Sunday said he has stopped using the word “strike”. The minister had faced flak from the Opposition for a flurry of remarks over the surgical strikes carried out by the Army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in September. “I will prefer to address the gathering in local language. I hardly get an opportunity to address in local language. But I promise you I will not touch any controversial issue. I have already stopped using the word strike,” Parrikar, who was in his home state of Goa, said during the inauguration of a helicopter engines maintenance unit in Sattari tehsil.
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“You brought the term (strike) in your speech referring to labour issues,” he said on a lighter note after the speech by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar during the event. On October 17, Parrikar had appeared to give credit to “RSS teaching” for the decision to launch cross-LoC surgical strikes even as he slammed those seeking proof for the Army’s anti-terror operation.
The minister had also trashed claims of such operations under the UPA, provoking a counter offensive from the Congress, which accused him of “blatant politicisation” of the issue. Condemning Parrikar for rejecting its claim of surgical strikes having been undertaken by the Army under UPA, Congress had demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi tame his “belligerent” minister and BJP chief Amit Shah, and apologise to the armed forces.
The surgical strikes were carried out on seven terror launch pads across the LoC with the Army inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK. The strikes on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that the Uri attack, which left 19 Indian soldiers dead, would not go unpunished.