Antony under attack for LoC killings of soldiers, govt asks BJP to 'rise above politics'
BJP targets defence minister for saying that Monday night's LoC ambush in which five Indian soldiers were killed was carried out by 'terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform.'Why UPA govt has to hold its fire at Pakistandelhi Updated: Aug 08, 2013 12:44 IST
The Opposition on Wednesday accused the government of letting Pakistan off the hook over the killing of five soldiers in disputed Kashmir, creating uproar in Parliament.
Defence minister AK Antony in his account on Tuesday to the Parliament blamed "20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistani Army uniforms", while the Army had initially accused Pakistani troops of staging the attack.
The BJP demanded that Antony apologise for "toeing the Pakistani line" when he stated that the 5 Indian soldiers were killed by 20 heavily armed terrorists and persons in Pakistani Army uniform, while an Indian Army statement said the terrorist were assisted by Pakistan Army.
Antony later said he "made the statement on basis of whatever information I had" and promised to report back to the Parliament after the Indian army chief's visit to Kashmir.
A group of heavily armed Pakistani intruders shot and killed five Indian soldiers in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir in an audacious cross-border strike that threatened to derail the peace dialogue between the two countries late Monday night.
The Indian army initially said the soldiers were ambushed by Pakistani army trooops but retracted the statement late Tuesday.
While Pakistan has denied any involvement, India said on Tuesday it had lodged a "strong" protest with Islamabad over what is one of the worst losses of life for the Indian army since a 2003 truce agreement.
The Opposition zeroed in on conflicting accounts of Monday night's attack.
The assault on Monday night triggered an uproar in Parliament amid allegations that the attackers included members of Pakistani army, a charge that was denied by Islamabad.
Political reactions to Antony's statement:
Senior BJP leader LK Advani said on Wednesday while addressing the media that there is discrepancy in the statements issued by AK Antony in the Parliament and the defence ministry first press release. The ministry blamed the Pakistan Army for the killing of Indian soldiers.
"In my view, this is no time for talks with Pakistan," he added.
Advani said that Antony should apologise in Parliament for making a "false statement."
Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj, in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, insisted on knowing why the Army's statement on Monday night's LoC killings were different from the defence minister's statement.
"The government must admit that the Pakistan army is responsible for this attack," Swaraj said.
The defence minister "has let the country down. He must apologise to the nation," she added.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present in the House, Swaraj demanded a statement from him on the issue stating categorically that Pakistan Army was involved in the attack on the Indian post in Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday said that it seems like defence minister AK Antony is on the Pakistan army's side and that his statement is 'most laughable.'
"We have sent notice on breach of privilege to the speaker of Lok Sabha," said BJP's Yashwant Sinha for misleading the Parliament.
Arun Jaitley took up the issue and pointed out the ridiculousness of AK Antony’s statement which almost relieved Pakistan of all charges.
Ravi Shankar Prasad
Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) said, "It impinges upon national security. We would like the defence minister to explain after all the first statement is issued from Jammu, from the field, from the Armed forces."
"Defence minister has to clarify and tender an apology to the country. Government has let down the moral of the country and demoralised the Armed Forces. What is the response...The Minister should offer an apology," Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said.
Naidu questioned why there was change in statement by the defence minister. "Is it something to do with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's proposed visit to United Nations and hold talks with Pakistan there?"
"It is extremely unfortunate that when five brave soldiers of the Indian army have been killed and one is injured, we still continue to indulge in parties and politics," information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said on Wednesday in response to BJP's demand that Antony apolgise.
"We need to try and rise above political differences. I think it would serve all of us that we discuss issues which are sensitive, which have a bearing on the morale of the forces and the morale of the nation in a manner which is sober and try and rise above parties and politics on such questions," he told reporters.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath came out in his support of AK Antony, saying the remarks were made on the basis of facts available at that time.
"There is no question of the Defence Minister misleading. He made a statement of facts, facts which were available at the time when he made the statement. If any facts emerge after that obviously those facts are after the statement," Nath told reporters.
The Congress-led government is keen to engage with Pakistan, with foreign minister Salman Khurshid insisting that the government did not "want to throw the baby out with the bath water.
"We don't want to create a situation that is detrimental and destructive for India's security and peace," he told the Press Trust of India news agency.
The killing of five Indian soldiers evoked feelings of anger in every political party, but that didn't stop them from playing the blame-game among themselves.
Sonia says India could not be cowed down by 'deceit'
Calling incidents like Monday night's intrusion "blatant acts of deceit" Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said the country will be 'cowed down' by the attack. Read More
Don't talk to Pakistan, BJP says
Senior BJP leaders M Venkaiah Naidu and Shahnawaz Hussain pressed for much stronger actions. They suggested the government take a harder stand with Pakistan and against terrorism rooting from the country. Read More
Death of Indian soldiers unacceptable: Modi
Condemning the attack by Pakistani troops, Modi targetted the government for its laxity in securing the borders. Tweeting his reaction, Modi also brought up the incidences of Chinese intrusions while pulling up the government. Read More
My heartfelt condolences to the families of the brave Soldiers who laid down their lives in Poonch.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 6, 2013
From China's intrusions to Pakistan's ambushes- UPA Government has been absolutely lax in securing Indian borders. When will Centre wake up?
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 6, 2013
Pak attack on Indian post does not help normalise ties: Omar
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted his reaction, adding that the incident brings Pakistan's 'recent overtures' (for peace talks) to question. Read More
Was briefed early this morning about news that 5 of our soldiers had been killed on the LOC. My heartfelt condolences to their next of kin.— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) August 6, 2013
These incidents don't help efforts to normalise or even improve relations with Pak & call in to question the Pak Govt's recent overtures.— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) August 6, 2013
LoC, Pak Army and Poonch trended on Twitter the entire day. Facebook users too expressed their reactions using #LoC, #borders and other similar hashtags.
#ColorIsIn Pak Army - Betrayal— Fragile_Item (@Handle_Vid_Care) August 6, 2013
Army statement says 'soldiers of Pak Army'. Antony's says 'persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms'. FYI, that's our Defence Minister.— Naveen Kumar (@naveendwh4) August 6, 2013
Actually Antony has won the war for India. Under him, Pak Army has been destroyed. All that is left is "persons in Pakistani Army uniform".— Akhilesh Mishra (@amishra77) August 6, 2013
For revenge of poonch attack, we can gift @kamaalrkhan 2 Pakistan as holy month of ramzan..if its not enough then we can offer digvijay also— kalpesh Ramoliya (@Imkalpesh17) August 6, 2013
Saddened by the state of our government today and its incapacity to take critical defence decisions. #poonch— *Aditya Chaugule* (@AdityaChaugule) August 6, 2013
First Published: Aug 07, 2013 10:46 IST