Congress leader and former Union minister Rajiv Shukla on Thursday claimed that the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government had conducted several surgical strikes across the border into Pakistan between 2008 and 2014. Shukla asked the Bharatiya Janata Party to stop taking credit for steps taken to secure the nation’s security because every government has done its share.
The Congress party’s remarks come at a time when the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance has made national security one of the main talking points of its election campaign.
Shukla went on to list the dates when the strikes were purportedly carried out. “One was conducted on June 19, 2008, in Bhattal Sector in Poonch, one from August 30-September 1, 2011 in Sharda Sector across Neelam River Valley in Kel,” he told reporters at a press conference. “One surgical strike was carried out on January 6, 2013, at Sawan Patra check post; one on July 27 and July 28, 2013 in Nazapir Setor, another on August 6, 2013 in Neelam Valley and one on January 14, 2014.”
Shukla criticised the BJP for taking credit for Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist by the United Nations. The former Union minister said that Congress governments have got four terrorists blacklisted. “Who freed Masood Azhar? He was in jail during the Congress government, but the BJP-led government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee freed him,” Shukla said.
Congress spokesperson Ragini Nayak criticised the Narendra Modi government for “failing to secure the nation’s security while taking pride in its 56-inch chest”. “Yesterday’s incident in Gadchiroli takes us back to the Pulwama incident,” Nayak said.
She was referring to a blast by suspected Maoists that blew up a police vehicle and killed 15 security personnel and a driver in the Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli. “Why did such an intelligence lapse occur? Why was the region, declared as a Naxal-free area, targeted by Maoists so frequently over the last few months?”
Shukla asked reporters to keep track of Modi and the BJP’s claims to be able to question them when they contradict themselves.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also said the United Progressive Alliance government had conducted “multiple surgical strikes” but did not believe in using them to win votes.
Meanwhile, Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore refuted the Congress’ claims, ANI reported. “I was in the Army. I know what happened or did not happen,” Rathore said. “The Army is with the BJP and Modi. The Army knows what happens.”
The Modi government has disclosed details of two strikes against Pakistan. 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 in response to the terror attack in Uri. On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force said it had attacked terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan. The Balakot airstrike was in response to the February 14 Pulwama attack, in which 40 security personnel were killed.