Just a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned the authenticity of India’s ‘surgical strike’ claims, The Congress asked the government to put forth “credible” evidence of last week’s surgical strikes, carried out by the army across the Line of Control, to “expose” Pakistan which has denied any such action. Congress’ senior spokesman Anand Sharma also sought to dismiss the claim that the surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads was the first such retaliation by the Indian Army, insisting that it had responded earlier too “as per the need or provocation”.
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’.
Uri aftermath: Global media doubts surgical strike claims
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.