The Congress party Thursday hit out at the Narendra Modi government for using the armed forces for political and electoral gains. This, after some video footage of the September 2016 surgical strikes were aired on media channels Wednesday evening.
“Let the ruling dispensation remember that the blood and sacrifice of our brave soldiers cannot become a political vote garnering tool for the Modi Government and the BJP,” Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
According to television channels the videos, which they had accessed from official sources, were taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Thermal Imaging (TI) cameras used by the Army to monitor the operation. The clips showed some terrorists being killed, besides destruction of bunkers and other military constructions across the Line of Control.
WATCH: 2016 Surgical Strike Video Footage
Surjewala also questioned what impact the surgical strikes had if terror attacks continued post 2016 that resulted in the killing of at least 146 soldiers.
“On one hand, Modi government and the BJP indulge in seeking credit for the sacrifice of our soldiers and surgical strike, yet the government has utterly failed to provide the direction, the vision and the policy for dealing with Pakistan and checkmating Pak-sponsored terrorism. No wonder apathy and incapacity of the Modi government has resulted in the sacrifice of 146 soldiers, more than 1600 ceasefire violations by Pakistan and 79 terrorist attacks post September 2016,” he said.
“Every time Modi government fail in their promises, why do they use the sacrifice of our soldiers for their political gains? India is proud that Indian Army had successfully conducted surgical strikes many times in last two decades, especially after 2000. Post Surgical Strike of Sept 2016 against terrorists in Pakistan, then Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi and then Congress VP, Shri Rahul Gandhi had unequivocally supported the armed forces and the Government,” Surjewala said, adding that even during former prime minister Manmohan Singh surgical strikes were conducted but not publicised.
“The videos are real. I can confirm that,” Lt General D S Hooda (retd), former Northern Army Commander who was directly in-charge of the surgical strikes told The Indian Express. The feed of these videos was reportedly being broadcast live during the surgical strikes to the operations room of his headquarters in Udhampur. “When the surgical strikes happened, my view was that the videos should have been released as proof. It is good that they have come out now,” Lt General Hooda added.
On the intervening night of September 28-29, 2016, the Army had carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in PoK. The then DGMO, Lt General Ranbir Singh, had announced on September 29, 2016 that India had conducted surgical strikes on terror pads along the LoC using ground forces, inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists.
BJP hits back
The BJP, however, accused the Congress of questioning the commitment and courage of the armed forces and lowering its morale, asserting that it is no longer a mainstream party but a fringe player.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the Congress’ allegation that the Modi government is politicising the surgical strikes, saying if the BJP wanted to draw political mileage then a video purportedly showing the Army’s operation in PoK would have been released during the polls in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat or Karnataka.
Questions like why the video was released now and where it came from are not relevant, Prasad said and asked the opposition party to answer if it considers the video real or not and approves of the surgical strikes or not.
Terrorists and their patrons in Pakistan would be very happy with the statement of the opposition party, he said.
The Congress has become so desperate with its repeated losses in elections that it has been repeatedly questioning the commitment and courage of our armed forces, he said.
“It is boosting the morale of terrorists. To what extent the Congress will stoop for votes,” he said.
“It is clear from its repeated comments that the Congress is no longer a mainstream party but a fringe player, a fringe party in the national politics,” Prasad told reporters.
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