Rejecting Congress’s claim of conducting surgical strikes across LoC during the UPA rule, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said that there was no such Army operation in his knowledge. “I’m Defence Minister for two years, and from whatever I have learnt, there’s no surgical strike anytime earlier. What probably they are quoting are what is called as action taken by Border Action Teams.” He was speaking at an event hosted by Forum for Integrated National Security in Mumbai.
Parrikar further said that ‘these (action by Border Action Teams) are common practices across the globe and also in Indian Army. A local commander takes punitive action against an opponent who has been troubling him to settle scores. It’s not an official action approved by the government and that’s why it is called covert operation, without the knowledge of anyone. The report is subsequently issued,” he said.
Speaking about the September 29 surgical strike, the Defence minister said: “In this case a decision was taken and conveyed. Of course the execution was done superbly by the army they have done their job properly but there was a decision and which was announced by army itself – DGMO. If we had to take political credit for it, Defence Minister would have announced it. We have not announced it. It is Indian Armed Forces DGMO who announced the outcome and informed of the action taken by Indian military. The difference is that this is a covert operation which clearly indicates the intent of the Indian Army which was carried out.”
The minister gave whole credit of the surgical strikes to Indian Army and the people of India. “We don’t take credit for the strike. One should understand government takes decision and that government should be cheered. 127 crores people of this country and the Indian armed forces deserve the credit for the surgical strikes, said Parrikar.
He also said that India’s extending hand of friendship was construed as weakness by Pakistan. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to patch up with Pakistanis. He extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan but this was construed as weakness. What we did on September 29 was the tell our adversaries that we are not weak.
On being asked about the alleged misuse of AFSPA in Valley, Parrikar said, “AFSPA has not been misused during our regime. In cases were there has been some error in judgements, inquires are underway and action would be taken accordingly. We have given clear instructions-don’t touch civilians but when somebody comes with a gun then don’t treat him as a civilian.”
On the intervening night of September 28 and 29, the Army conducted surgical strikes across the LoC to eliminate terrorists waiting at launchpads, ready to infiltrate the country and carry out attacks. The announcement was made by DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh at a joint press conference with the Ministry of External Affairs on the following day.
The surgical strikes were carried out in retaliation to the Uri terror attack that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers.