NEW DELHI: Even as the Indian prime minister insisted on Sunday that his country never attacked any country and never coveted anyone’s territory, his home minister said the country was “proud of the manner in which Indian troops carried out surgical strikes against militant launch pads” in Azad Kashmir last week.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, a complex dedicated to overseas Indians, Narendra Modi said: “India has not attacked anyone; it is neither hungry for any territory.”
He said that in the two World Wars (which were fought before India’s independence) as many as 150,000 Indian soldiers laid down their lives while “fighting for others”.
While Modi’s speech was replete with references to the “sacrifices Indians had rendered for others”, his Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement was full of praise for the troops “who carried out the surgical strikes” in Azad Kashmir.
Whole world aware of ‘surgical strikes’, says home minister
“The country, as well as the whole world, is aware of this (surgical strikes)… the way our jawans displayed valour has made India proud,” Singh said to journalists after inaugurating a ‘smart toilet’ in New Delhi.
Responding to questions about doubts raised by the Pakistan Army about the strikes and the fact that India had not released any footage of the operation, the minister simply said: “Just wait and watch.”
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, meanwhile, said the Indian government was working to secure the release of a soldier held in Pakistan, adding that it would take some time.
India claims the soldier was captured on Thursday after he “inadvertently” crossed over into Azad Kashmir after crossing the Line of Control.
Parrikar said the capture did not relate to the so-called “surgical strikes”.
“He had crossed over, which happens in border areas. There is a well-established mechanism through DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) which has been activated,” the minister said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
“Since the situation is tense right now, it will take some days to bring the soldier back.”
India has evacuated thousands of people near the border in East Punjab following the alleged “strikes”.
Published in Dawn October 3rd, 2016