VICE-CHIEF of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat on Friday briefed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence on the September 29 surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Kashmir. This came a day after two Congress members in the committee objected in writing to what they alleged was a “last-minute change” in the panel’s agenda against briefing them over the surgical strikes “under the garb of secrecy”.
Sources said Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Ambika Soni and Madhusudan Mistry, the panel members who had on Thursday issued a statement, also took up the issue today with the committee’s chairman, Maj Gen B C Khanduri (Retd).
There was an “open debate” among them on the issue and a Congress member wanted to ask questions but Khanduri reportedly did not allow questions to be taken. Rawat appeared before the panel and briefed it for more than five minutes after the committee shed its initial reluctance to take up the matter, a panel member said.
Khanduri later told the media, “The first subject (in today’s meeting) was that there should be a briefing by the Defence Ministry. On that issue, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat gave a briefing in the presence of the Defence Secretary (G Mohan Kumar)…. Then there was the issue of proxy voting (for soldiers in general elections).”
Pressed further about the subject of the briefing, he said, “The term being used for this is surgical strike across the Line of Control.”
Asked whether he took notice of the statement the Congress had made on Thursday about the panel changing the agenda of the meeting, Khanduri called it a “misunderstanding”.