- Surgical strikes video being used for political propaganda: Arun Shourie
- The footage was released by the government on Wednesday
- The video has reignited a war of words between the Congress and the BJP
Former union minister Arun Shourie tore into the government for releasing the video footage of the September 2016 surgical strikes that he said was being used for political propaganda purposes ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The footage was released by the government yesterday after a stinging jab from Mr Shourie who this week called the surgical strikes against Pakistan "farzical", or a farce. The former union minister says he had used the phrase for the government, not the army.
"The way you (government) have used the strike for propaganda purposes, for building a self-image reduces an essential instrument to a farce. A strike became a farcical strike," Mr Shourie told NDTV, convinced that the decision to release the video is "all election driven".
Indian troops crossed the Line of Control in September 2016 to take out terror launch pads in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, weeks after Pakistani terrorists attacked an army base in Uri in Kashmir in the deadliest attack on the military. 19 soldiers were killed.
Sources said the footage was released on the instructions of the Prime Minister's Office.
The release of the video footage of reignited a war of words between the Congress and the ruling BJP over the strikes, with the Congress accusing the government of seeking to take credit for the sacrifice and valour of the armed forces.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the BJP had "shamelessly" used surgical strikes to benefit in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. He said the NDA government and BJP boss Amit Shah misuse the valour of the Army for their political benefit whenever they start losing.
The BJP hit back, saying the opposition party has become so desperate with its repeated losses in elections that it had been repeatedly questioning the commitment and courage of the armed forces.
Mr Shourie said he saw the government decision to release the footage shows that it had no credibility in its own perception.
"In the eyes of this government itself, it has no credibility. Therefore they must prove it with a video. Tomorrow they will come and prove it with a certificate from a notary public," Mr Shourie said as he contrasted the government's handling of the 2016 strikes to similar strikes in the past.
The former minister, who was once an admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also accused the government of jeopardising the lives of Special Forces commandos by allowing them to be interviewed in public.
"Here we are so callous. We are demoralising the Army. They are endangering the lives of the soldiers in this way," he said, asserting that no country allowed its special forces to be exposed elsewhere.
The surgical strikes were filmed, though the army has said it has no plans to release the footage.