The Congress on Thursday said retired Lieutenant General DS Hooda, who oversaw the “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control in 2016, will lead the party’s task force to set up a vision paper on India’s national security. Hooda was the Northern Army commander in September 2016 when Indian troops carried out the operation on terror launch pads.

The retired Army official will lead the task force and work with a select group of experts, the party said. The task force will study ways to protect the border better and compile their suggestions.

The development follows the attack in Pulwama where forty Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed on February 14.

Earlier on Thursday, the Congress criticised the “misplaced priorities” of the Narendra Modi government in the wake of the terror attack in Pulwama, and claimed that for the prime minister, the “lust for power holds more importance than soldiers”. The party claimed that Modi was busy shooting for a film hours after the attack on February 14.

Hours later, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad criticised the Congress for flinging accusations at Modi and accused the Opposition party of trying to weaken the morale of the country and that of the armed forces. “Congress may have known that the Pulwama attack was going to happen, we did not know,” he said.

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. The strikes followed an attack on an Army base Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed.

In December 2018, Hooda had said the “surgical strikes” were overhyped. “Did the overhype help? I say, completely no,” The Indian Express quoted him as saying. “If you start having political resonance in military operations, it is not good. There was too much political banter, on both sides, and when military operations get politicised, that is not good.”