Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar on Friday said that there was no compulsion on institutions or students to follow a University Grants Commission letter to celebrate September 29 as “Surgical Strikes Day”.

“We never mandate anything, we suggest and issue advisory,” Javadekar told ANI. “There is no politics, it is only patriotism.”

Javadekar said a programme was issued “because of suggestions from many students [and] teachers” who said they need to commemorate the second anniversary of the “surgical strikes” against Pakistan.

“On 29th September, we have asked colleges, those who want to, to arrange a lecture by ex-Army officers who can tell the students how defence forces defend the country and how the surgical strike was conducted,” the Union minister said.

In a letter to vice chancellors on Wednesday, the higher education authority suggested that institutions ask students to “pledge their support” to the armed forces through letters and cards, which the government will use for publicity.

West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said on Friday the state will not mark September 29 as “Surgical Strikes Day” and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre of trying to “malign and politicise” the Army.

On September 29, 2016, the Indian Army claimed to have carried out “surgical strikes on terror launchpads” across the Line of Control to neutralise alleged infiltrators the previous night. Pakistan denied any such attacks and said India was deliberately using the term “surgical strikes” to describe existing “cross-border fire” operations for “media hype”.

A surgical strike is a military attack aimed to harm only the intended target and ensure minimal collateral damage to general public infrastructure and utilities around it.