Modi used soldiers’ sacrifices to garner votes: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday accused the Narendra Modi government of politicising the 2016 surgical strikes and alleged that the BJP was using “soldiers as a tool to garner votes”.

The party made the comment on the day “Parakram parv” is being observed by the Central government to mark the second anniversary of the surgical strikes carried out on the intervening night of September 28-30 across the Line of Control (LOC) on terror launch pads.

The Congress said the 2016 attack was not the first time that India had undertaken surgical strikes and listed a number of such attacks carried out in the past.

“We are proud that our forces have successfully conducted multiple ‘surgical strikes’ over last two decades, particularly post the year 2000 — January 21, 2000 (Nadala Enclave, across the Neelam River); September 18, 2003 (Baroh Sector, Poonch); June 19, 2008 (Bhattal Sector, Poonch); August 30-September 1, 2011 (Sharda Sector, across Neelam River Valley in Kel); January 6, 2013 (Sawan Patra checkpost); July 27-28, 2013 ( Nazapir Sector); August 6, 2013 (Neelam Valley); January 14, 2014 (Army Chief, General Bikram Singh’s statement qua surgical strike on December 23, 2013); September 28-29, 2016 (DGMO’s statement),” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.

Besides Surjewala, the press conference was also addressed by Major General (Retd.) Satbir Singh, President of the Ex-Servicemen Movement, Rohit Chaudhary and Sudesh Goyat, OROP activists.

Surjewala accused the Central government of “compromising national security”, saying that in 52 months of its rule, Jammu and Kashmir alone has lost “414 security personnel and 259 civilians in Pakistan-sponsored terrorism”.

The Congress leader challenged Modi to concede that he has “failed” in keeping the borders secure by allowing a “500 per cent increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan, since May 2014”.

“Where is the ’56-inch chest’ missing as Pakistan commits more than 3,000 ceasefire violations at the LoC and international border?” he questioned.

He alleged that Modi “squandered national interests by arbitrarily reducing the number of (Rafale) fighter aircraft required by the Indian Air Force (IAF) from 126 to 36”, and buying the aircraft at 300 per cent higher price than its original cost at the time when the deal was struck by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Surjewala accused the government of meting out “step motherly treatment” to the armed forces by slashing the defence budget to 1.58 per cent of the GDP, which was the “lowest since 1962”, and also of neglecting a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, which exposed that “68 per cent” of the Army’s equipment was “vintage” and that there was no money to buy emergency weapons.

Singh slammed the government for politicisng the surgical strikes and said why is thare no celebration on December 16, every year?

“On December 16, 1971, we formed a new country. Why that day is not being celebrated?” he questioned, adding that the ex-army personnel had earlier written to the Prime Minister to celebrate December 16 in the way the country celebrates Republic Day and Independence Day.

“You all must remember how we captured 93,000 Pakistan prisoners. At that time we used to cross the border and captured them,” he said.

Rohit Chaudhary also questioned the government’s intention over the non-implementation of the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) scheme.

“If you want to be seen standing with the soldiers then why did you not implement the OROP? Today the soldiers are victimised and want to tell the government that it should immediately implement OROP without delay and without dilution,” Chaudhary said.

Major (Retd.) Ajmer Singh Goyat’s wife Sudesh Goyat said that the soldiers were protesting the Parakram Divas. “The reason is that Sandeep Singh, who was one of the members in the surgical strikes, died three days ago.

“If Prime Minister would have visited his home instead of visiting Rajasthan. PM Modi is only showing off instead of working for the welfare of the soldiers,” Gayot said.

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