Lt General (Retd) DS Hooda, a former Northern Army commander and main architect of the 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK, said several cross border operations were carried out by the Indian Army in the past amid a war of words between the Centre and the Congress after the Opposition party had on Friday stated that it conducted six surgical strikes between June 2008 and January 2014.
“Call it surgical strikes, call it cross border operations, they have been carried out in the past by the Army. I’m not aware of exact dates and areas that have been brought out,” News agency ANI quoted Lt General Hooda as saying.
After the Congress’s claims, Prime Minister Narendra, while addressing a rally in Rajasthan's Sikar, said a Congress leader had claimed four months back that three surgical strikes were conducted during the Congress' term and now another leader is saying six surgical strikes were carried out by the party.
"The number increased from three to six in four months. By the time elections are over, this number would increase to 600. What does it matter when the strike is on paper! The Congress only speaks lies," the prime minister said.
"I think such leaders play video games and perhaps enjoy surgical strikes thinking of it as some game," he said.
Taking umbrage at Modi's remark, the Congress on Friday said it has never used the strikes as election fodder and the statement is an abuse to the bravery of soldiers.
The Congress said Modi's "shameless utterances" that surgical strikes were only on "paper" and Congress leaders thought of them like video games were a direct abuse to the indomitable courage and bravery of the soldiers.
"Tragically, Modiji has even faulted the statement of the then Army chief, General Bikram Singh on the surgical strike dated December 23, 2013. This reflects political bankruptcy of a prime minister when faced with an imminent defeat in the 2019 elections," the party claimed in a statement.
Interestingly, Lt General Hooda's statement came hours after former Army General and Union Minister VK Singh accused the Congress party of lying about its claims of multiple surgical strikes during the UPA government. "The Congress has a habit of lying. Will you please let me know which ‘So called Surgical Strike’ are you attributing to my tenure as COAS," the BJP leader asked.
Addressing a press conference, senior Congress leader Rajiv Shukla elucidated the details of the ‘surgical strikes’. He said while six were carried out during the UPA regime, two more carried out during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"We never did chest thumping. The one who did only one surgical strike is patting his back. Neither Dr Manmohan Singh nor Vajpayee did a press conference on it," Shukla said.