Just a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned the authenticity of India’s ‘surgical strike’ claims, another Indian politician has demanded credible evidence of the incident from the Indian government.
“The government must expose Pakistan’s denial. It has all the tools and instruments to do so,” The Indian Express quoted senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma as saying on Monday. Sharma, however, said Congress did not have a slightest doubt about what the Indian DGMO said after the ‘operation’ in response to a question regarding AAP’s demand of video evidence to corroborate the claim.
Meanwhile, another Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam on Tuesday termed the claim fake and said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Indian government was trying to derive political mileage from it. “Every Indian wants #SurgicalStrikesAgainstPak but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by #BJP. Politics over national interest,” Nirupam said in a Twitter message.
While hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, Nirupam tweeted: “Every Indian wants #SurgicalStrikesAgainstPak but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by #BJP. Politics over national interest.”
Sharma, a senior minister in the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government, disapproved of attempts to ban Pakistani artistes and cricketers in India. He said it was “not correct” to brand every citizen of Pakistan, including artists and sportsmen, a “terrorist”.
The party’s demand for credible evidence of ‘surgical strikes’ coincides with international suspicions being raised on India’s claim which is remains shrouded in mystery. Leading US newspaper, The Washington Post, in an article on Sunday published interviews of locals living along the Line of Control. The majority of villagers in the three areas along the LoC said that they did not witness any cross-border movement of troops or hear the sound of any helicopters.
Another well-reputed publication, The Diplomat, in a piece titled Is India Capable of a Surgical Strike in Pakistan Controlled Kashmir? raised some serious questions about the capabilities of the Indian military.
According to a BBC Urdu article, when locals residing merely two kilometres away from Indian check-posts were inquired about the strikes they said: “What surgical strikes? That day there was just more than usual firing.” Moreover, the Indian army’s muddled up and porous information also raised more doubts regarding the authenticity of such ‘strikes’.
India’s state minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has already accepted that “no aerial operations were included in the operation”. Rathore’s remarks endorsed the version of the army’s media wing, ISPR, which insisted: “there has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India.”
Interestingly, Pakistan Army after firmly denying the claims of strikes also took independent journalists to the LoC at Baghsir, 20 kilometres from Bhimber to show the situation on ground. DG ISPR General Asim Saleem Bajwa stressed that while Pakistan has brought journalists to the LoC and is showing them the situation on ground, India is not allowing the same access to its own people which is suspicious.
Tensions between the two arch rivals have been boiling since the Indian government accused Pakistan-based militants of launching an assault on an army base in Uri sector of occupied Kashmir last month that killed 18 Indian army soldiers.
BJP slams Delhi CM; Kejriwal hits back
The BJP-led Indian government on Tuesday slammed the Delhi CM for ‘doubting’ its claim of “surgical strike”.
“I want to ask Arvind Kejriwal whether he believes in the extraordinary valour of our army or not in conducting surgical strikes,” Indian minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a press briefing. “Under the garb of seeking proof, don’t belittle great leadership, courage and sacrifice of our armed forces,” Prasad advised the AAP leader.
Kejriwal hit back at Modi administration for criticising his earlier plea for proof of the ‘surgical strike’ claimed by India. “We all know and accept that surgical strikes have been conducted but… the world media is saying that [they] were not conducted,” the Delhi CM told journalists, adding that he only asked the government to give a befitting response to “Pakistan’s propaganda but why is BJP so baffled and scared”.