A day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sent a video message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to “unmask” Pakistan’s “dirty propaganda” about the Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the LoC, the capital witnessed two protests connected to the issue Tuesday. One was held by the AAP, to protest against Pakistan and its media, while the other was held by the BJP, to protest against AAP chief Kejriwal whose remarks, claimed the party, amounted to “seeking proof” of the strikes.
While AAP had planned to hold the protest outside the Pakistan High Commission, it was denied entry inside the diplomatic area. The party finally held the protest outside the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
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Over a 100 AAP supporters and leaders raised slogans like Pakistan Media Haay Haay and Pakistan hosh mein aao, slamming Pakistan for refusing to admit that the “surgical strikes” had taken place. Party workers also raised slogans such as Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Mataram.
While AAP offered its support to the central government, it continued to seek the same thing Kejriwal had asked asked for, and over which he had been attacked by the BJP: a response to Pakistan’s “false propaganda”.
“We have several differences with you, but we are with you on issues of national interest,” said AAP’s Delhi convenor Dilip Pandey, as he addressed a gathering of party workers inside the Chanakya Puri police station where he, along with other senior AAP leaders, were detained. They were released later.
Saying the party “completely trusted the Army”, Pandey said, “Our Army has given muh tod jawab (befitting response) to terrorists, we want a similar “muh tod jawab to Pakistan’s propaganda”.
He also criticised the BJP for “questioning Kejriwal’s intentions”, claiming that Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s comment on the issue “exposed the BJP’s petty politics”.
Responding to the video, Prasad had said the AAP leader should answer whether he “believed in the Indian Army” or not.
Meanwhile, AAP workers claimed that the protest was held to project “national unity and integrity”.
“It is a matter of national interest. We are with our country. He is our Prime Minister too,” said Mukesh Kumar, a contractual worker at the Delhi Secretariat.
Kumar said, “We want evidence of the strikes too”, but quickly added “that’s a different issue”. “The international media is criticising us. We must give them evidence,” he said.
Another participant, auto-rickshaw driver Bhagwan Swami, said the AAP’s protest should not be interpreted as the party’s “support for BJP”. “We are not supporting the BJP. We are opposing Pakistan for the wrong things it is doing. We are also Indians,” he said.
“Our Army has done a great job… we are supporting them. Pakistan has refuted it (strikes), it will demoralise our Army,” said AAP member Kadambari Yadav.
“Our party believes in doing the right thing,” said Yadav, adding that the protest was held to display the AAP’s support for the country and the armed forces.
Meanwhile, at a protest held by the BJP’s Delhi unit near Kejriwal’s residence, the party accused him of providing “veiled support” to Pakistan.
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhayay, who led the demonstration along with Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, accused Kejriwal of working for “foreign agencies” who were trying to “destabilise” India.
“Never has the country seen a Chief Minister commenting on Army operations like Kejriwal did… this is against constitutional propriety…,” said Upadhayay.
Gupta said it was “disheartening” when a Chief Minister “demanded proof” of Army operations.