NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday accused the Modi government of using the 2016 surgical strike carried out in Pakistan as "political fodder" to gain votes and listed many similar strikes done in the last two decades to assert this was not the first action of its kind.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala's comments came a day after the release of the video footage of the Indian Army's surgical strikes in September 2016 when troops crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to attack terror hubs in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Surjewala told reporters that BJP President Amit Shah had "dishonoured" the 70-year-long history of bravery and sacrifice of the armed forces by making a "disgraceful statement" on October 7, 2016 that the "Indian Army had crossed the LoC for the first time in 68 years".
Stressing that Congress President Rahul Gandhi and her predecessor Sonia Gandhi supported the armed forces and the government in the 2016 action, Surjewala said the Army had conducted strategic surgical strikes "with utmost precision and effective penetration" at different times in the last two decades.
He listed eight "surgical strikes" conducted prior to 2016.
"We are proud that our forces successfully conducted multiple surgical strikes over the last two decades, particularly post 2000 -- January 21, 2000 (Nadala Enclave, across Neelam river); September 18, 2003 (Baroh Sector, Poonch); June 19, 2008 (Bhattal Sector, Poonch); August 30 to September 1, 2011 (Sharda Sector, across Neelam river Valley in Kel); January 6, 2013 (Sawan Patra Checkpost); July 27 to 28, 2013 (Nazapir Sector); August 6, 2013 (Neelam Valley); January 14, 2014; September 28 to 29, 2016."
He said the Modi government sought credit for the sacrifices of the soldiers but had "utterly failed" to provide the direction, vision and policy for dealing with Pakistan and checkmating Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
"No wonder the apathy and incapacity of the Modi government has resulted in the sacrifice of 146 soldiers, more than 1,600 ceasefire violations by Pakistan and 79 terrorist attacks post September 2016," Surjewala said.
"Doublespeak of the Modi government and the BJP's stand is reflected in the stepmotherly treatment of our armed forces, both in terms of providing for security apparatus as also in slashing their budgetary allocation."
Surjewala alleged that Army Vice Chief Sarath Chand was "forced" to say that 68 per cent of all equipment was vintage.
"On account of budgetary cuts, procurement from ordinance factory is being reduced from 94 per cent to 50 per cent, which will force our soldiers to buy uniforms, combat dress, belts and shoes on their own."
Surjewala said the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence highlighted lack of money for emergency purchases by Armed Forces after the Uri terror attack, the surgical strike and the Doklam standoff with China.