The surgical strikes were conducted after a terror attack on an Army camp in Uri in Kashmir on September 18, 2016, in which 19 soldiers were killed.
New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday latched on to the remarks of the Army officer who had overseen the 2016 surgical strikes across the LoC to train his guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for using them to gain political capital.
“Spoken like a true soldier General. India is so proud of you. Mr 36 has absolutely no shame in using our military as a personal asset. He used the surgical strikes for political capital and the Rafale deal to increase Anil Ambani’s real capital by 30,000 cr. #SurgicalStrike (sic),” Mr Gandhi, who has often in the past accused the Prime Minister of using a routine military operation to boost his image as a decisive and fearless leader, tweeted.
Former Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda (Retd), who monitored live video feed of the surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the border in September 2016, had said at an event in Chandigarh on Friday that constant maintenance of “too much hype” around military operations was unwarranted.
“In hindsight, it would have been better had we done it (surgical strikes) secretly,” he said, triggering a major controversy.
Reacting to Lt. Gen. Hooda’s comments, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday termed it as an “individual person’s perception”.
“Lt. Gen. Hooda was one of the main persons involved in these operations… I respect his words very much,” Gen. Rawat said.
Commenting on Gen. Hooda’s remarks, incumbent Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh said in Kapurthala on Saturday, “From military point of view, these were successful tactical operations, which conveyed a very clear message to Pakistan that should they not stop any kind of misadventure along the LoC, they shall be given befitting reply.”
“Surgical strike is one of the options available to the Army. It had a positive effect on the country. We’ve been able to curb terrorism to a great extent,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Hooda, while participating in a discussion in Chandigarh’s Military Literature Festival, had said that the aim of any offensive like the surgical strikes has to be strategic besides being tactical as it substantially affects the morale of the enemy.
“The military operation was important and we had to do it. Now how much should it have been politicised, whether it is right or wrong, is something that should be asked to politicians,” Lt. Gen. Hooda had said.
He also said that it was natural to have initial euphoria about the success, but the constant maintenance of hype around the military operation was unwarranted.
The surgical strikes were conducted after a terror attack on an Army camp in Uri in Kashmir on September 18, 2016, in which 19 soldiers were killed. The Army said several terrorist launch pads were destroyed and many terrorists were killed in the operation.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, alleged at a press conference that “this government is guilty of the most crass and cheap politicisation of the Army”.
“Anonymity of the Army is its biggest strength and it was maintained by every government except this one. But we are grateful that some amount of truth is coming out, and it is coming out at the highest level,” he said.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala thanked Lt. Gen. Hooda for “exposing the petty politicisation by PM Modi”.
“No one can use the valour and sacrifice of our brave soldiers to score cheap political points Modiji is squarely guilty of compromising National Security and Strategic Interests by unwarranted chest thumping!” Mr Surjewala tweeted.