Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Wednesday India has not carried out any surgical strikes in the past, adding that the previous operations were handled by local commanders at the border without a decision from the government.
Parrikar’s remark came days after the Congress said that surgical strikes had been carried out in the past and that the then Manmohan Singh government never publicised such operations. Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said it was the responsibility of the media, the Congress and everyone else to expose the “brazen lies propagated by the ruling party (BJP) for political advantage”.
The BJP said no covert military operation of the magnitude of the September 29 strikes had been carried out before.
“I have been defence minister for over two years and from whatever I have learnt, there was no surgical strike anytime earlier. What probably they are quoting are actions taken by border action teams, which is a common practice across globe including the Indian Army,” Parrikar said at an event in Mumbai on Wednesday.
“In this, local commanders take positive action against opponents who have been troubling them to settle the score... it is not an official action approved by the government, these are called covert op without knowledge of anyone,” he added.
On Monday, the Congress demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah apologise to the nation for their “vote garnering” exercise on surgical strikes. “Doing politics over the sacrifice and valour of the armed forces is the worst crime,” spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
He earlier said all the 127 crore people of India, including “doubting Thomases”, and the Indian Army share and deserve credit for the operation on terror launchpads across the Line of Control as it was done by the armed forces and not by any political party.
He said the “major share” of the credit goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government for decision-making and planning.
Several political leaders and parties have raised questions on the surgical strike and some have sought proof. The Congress, while officially supporting the government over the strike, has also said that similar operations were undertaken during its tenure also.
Parrikar said that if the government wanted to take political mileage out of this, he would have announced it rather than the director general of military operations.
With inputs from agencies