Will hunt down terrorists on their own turf, says PM Modi in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused past regimes of failing to crack down on terrorism, and said his government would not hesitate to hunt down terrorists in their safe havens if India was attacked.
Modi also targeted the Opposition for indulging in “vote-bank politics”. “They [the Opposition] say it is a game of election. Where was election when we carried out surgical strikes for the first time [in September 2016]? Ye hamara siddhant hai, ki ghar mein ghus kar maarenge (It is our doctrine that we will hunt them down on their own turf),” he said at a public rally in Ahmedabad. “I am not going to spare them even if they hide in the bowels of the earth [saatve pataal],” he added.
Recalling the bomb blasts at the Ahmedabad civil hospital premises in July 2008 and the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Modi said the then government at the Centre should have taught the militants a lesson. “Terrorism came from across the border. Was it not the responsibility of people at the Centre to take revenge?” he asked.
“If the government then had courage, it could have avenged the deaths of innocent people at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. Innocent people were killed in 26/11 in Mumbai. And we came back to normal after a few days,” he said.
Modi also said the Opposition must not politicise the air strike carried out in Pakistan by the Indian Air Force on February 26, and asked whether or not they trust the country’s armed forces.
Congress spokesman Manish Doshi said, “To hide law and order failure, which is a state subject, the PM is blaming then UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government for the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings”.
Earlier in the day, speaking at a rally in Jamnagar, Modi attacked his rivals for questioning his statement that Rafale jets would have made a difference during the dogfight with Pakistani jets.
“I said if Rafale was acquired in time it would have made a difference [during the February 27 dogfight], but they [opposition parties] say Modi is questioning our air force strike,” the Prime Minister said. “Please use common sense. What I said was if we had Rafale at the time [of the dogfight], then none of our fighter jets would have gone down and none of theirs saved,” he added.
The Indian Air Force said it shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet but lost a MiG21 plane during the engagement, which occurred a day after Indian fighter jets hit a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan. An Indian fighter pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by Pakistani forces after his MiG 21 was shot down during the air skirmish, but released on March 1.
“If they [Opposition] don’t understand me, what can I do? They have their own limitations,” he told the audience during his 40-minute speech in Gujarati.
The tense India-Pakistan stand-off has given way to a political tussle in recent days, with Opposition leaders blaming the BJP for politicising the aerial strikes, and demanding proof that the terror camp was damaged, and 250 people — as claimed by BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday and several media reports — died in the attack.
Modi pushed back on those demands on Monday, saying his objective was to end terror while that of the opposition was to remove him. “The root of terrorism disease is in the neighbouring country, should we not cure the disease from its roots,” he said.