Why is there a Political War Over Surgical Strike?
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Why is there a Political War Over Surgical Strike?

Author: Thamanna Abdul Latheef calender  28 Jun 2018

Why is there a Political War Over Surgical Strike?

Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan inflicting heavy casualties on the intervening night of September 28 and 29, 2016. But then, the videos of the incidents were kept in dark due to various security reasons by the central government. However, these videos of attacks were aired on all the national television channels yesterday.

Seven terror launch pads were destroyed in a nearly five-hour-long operation conducted days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned that Uri attack, in which 17 army personnel were killed would not go unpunished.

Those videos were captured through cameras mounted on the helmets of the commandos and drones soaring in the sky.

Here's How the Operation Was Carried Out:

  • On September 29, DGMO Lt General Ranbir Singh declared that India had conducted surgical strikes on terror pads across the LoC using ground forces, inflicting 'significant casualties' on terrorists.
  • The strikes were conducted on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 on the basis of credible information about some terror units positioning themselves to infiltrate into India.
  • The operation was conducted between 500 metres to three kilometres across the LoC.
  • Commandoes of Army special forces were para-dropped into the Pakistani territory by ALH Dhruv helicopters.
  • A book on the surgical strikes later revealed that the Army had decided to use soldiers from the units that had suffered losses during the Uri attack.
  • A Ghatak platoon was formed to provide crucial terrain intelligence and man border posts.
  • An Army Major, who led the mission, later said that the most difficult part was the return of soldiers after the surgical strikes, as bullets fired by Pakistani soldiers were 'whistling past the ears of our men'.
  • The operation was monitored from New Delhi by the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, and the then Army Chief General Dalbir Singh.
  • Following the announcement of the strike, a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security was chaired by PM Modi, after which he called an all-party meet and briefed the then President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Pakistan, however, denied any surgical strike by India. It had, instead, said that unprovoked firing by India had killed two of its soldiers.

How Did Opposition React?

While referring to the surgical strikes, Rahul Gandhi said that "humare jawan hai jinhone khoon diya hai, jinhone surgical strikes kiya, unke khoon ke peeche aap (Modi) chuppe huye hai (Our soldiers conducted surgical strikes and gave their blood. Modi is just hiding behind their sacrifices). Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho"

In an interview, former home minister and senior Congress Leader P. Chidambaram said it was up to the government to take a call on whether a video footage should be released or not. “Having taken political ownership and having publicized it so much, it is only to be expected that people will demand that the videos be released. So I am sure the government has thought through of taking political ownership of a purely military action…Let the government respond to the demand of releasing videos. It was their call and they must take the next call also.” he said

“Since the surgical strikes have happened, Pakistan has stooped to the level of conducting dirty politics. They are trying to take international reporters to the border and saying that no strike has happened. My blood boiled after seeing this footage. I appeal to the PM that like the PM and the army has shown Pakistan on the ground, they should also unveil the false propaganda that is being spread by Pakistan,” Kejriwal said in the video message.

Sanjay Nirupam, Congress’s senior leader from Maharashtra also drew sharp criticism after he likened the strikes to a ‘fake’ one. “Every Indian wants surgical strikes against Pakistan but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by BJP. Politics over national interest.” he tweeted.

Government’s take on the Release of the Footages in 2016

The BJP then slammed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress Leader P Chidambaram for "demanding proof" of the Army's surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) to destroy terror launch pads.

BJP’s senior leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also responded sharply to the political reactions. “I want to ask Arvind Kejriwal whether he believes in the extraordinary valour of our soldiers or not in conducting surgical strike? If yes, then why is Arvind Kejriwal getting influenced by the false propaganda of Pakistan?” Prasad said in a press conference.

In October 2016, the then urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu had rejected the Opposition’s demand for proof of the surgical strikes, saying that any further discussions would be an “insult” to the Army. This was echoed by other union ministers who said that releasing the video was not necessary as the Army had already issued a statement on the strikes.

Question on the timing

On the release of the footage, several BJP leaders lashed out at the opposition. On the other hand, opposition leaders and numerous journalists raised doubts on the timing of the footage's release.

Randeep Surjewala, at Congress’ press conference, said that the Indian Army has been making sacrifices for decades, but BJP politicizing the bravery of the soldiers is condemnable. He also accused BJP of using the sacrifice of the soldiers to garner votes. “The Modi government is exploiting the slogan of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. Former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee never used the Army’s valour to garner votes”, he added.

The idea behind releasing the footages of the surgical strike now seems to be tricky as the general assembly elections are due in 2019. The big question that arises here is; ‘why did the government take almost 2 years to release these videos on surgical strike if it were meant to be released?’. The excess hype on Emergency period, Mandir politics, pulling out the alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, Vadra tax notice, the release of the videos on surgical strike etc. in the recent past not only instill doubts about the current government’s intentions but also demonstrate its desperation to be back in power. Instead of adorning what they’ve done 2 years back and taking pride in it, the government should really focus more on how far the conditions have changed considering the ground realities of terrorism.


महाराष्ट्र में अगर शिवसेना, एनसीपी और कांग्रेस के गठबंधन की सरकार बनती है तो क्या उसका हाल भी कर्नाटक जैसा होगा ?

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