Nirmala defends surgical strike celebrations

Bengaluru: Denying that the government was politicising the Army’s surgical strike inside Pakistan two years ago, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said it was being celebrated as a festival to show that India won’t take any attack on its troops lying down.

“The ‘Parakram Parv’ is being celebrated in over 50 cities across the country to show that we are not going to accept a blatant cowardly act of a neighbour getting into our Army base and killing soldiers who were resting and unarmed,” Sitharaman told reporters at Yelahanka air base here.

Giving the backdrop of the fest over the surgical strike on the intervening night of September 28-29, 2016, Sitharaman said it was necessary for the Army to hit the terrorist launch pads of the enemy in their territory.

“Though there have been quite a few infiltrations over the past few years and actions were taken to eliminate the intruders, it was a call of the Army with political backing to strike at the terrorist launch pads of our enemies,” she recalled.

Considered the deadliest attack on Indian security forces, 17 soldiers were killed by four heavily armed militants in the Army’s base camp near Uri town in northwest Kashmir on September 18.

“As the terror attack happened inside the base on unarmed soldiers, it was necessary for the Army to strike at the enemy in its territory,” she asserted.

Claiming that people in large numbers had come to mark the event and show solidarity with the armed forces, the Minister said if anyone raised questions about the celebration, she would ask if it was something to be ashamed of.

The Parv was observed for three days at 53 places across the country since Friday, highlighting the courage and sacrifice of the armed forces and special forces.

Asked about the reports of a Pakistani civilian chopper violating Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch sector on Sunday afternoon, the Defence Minister said she was yet to receive information on the incident.

“We will respond on the issue after getting the details,” Sitharaman said.

In response to a related question on why India isn’t ready to talk with Pakistan on infiltrations, the Minister said the country will not hold talks so long as the terrorism continues.

“Our position is clear — no talk so long as the terrorism continues. At the same time, we have responded every time there was a ceasefire violation,” she stressed.