New Delhi: The Army on Tuesday said that it does not have any data on surgical strikes conducted in Pakistan during UPA regime. Army's Director General Military Operations made the revelation in response to an RTI filed by Jammu-based activist.
The Army data has been made public at a time when the Centre has refused to release "classified documents" of other "state matters" like Rafale jet deal, arguing that such disclosures could have "grave repercussions on very existence of Indian state".
According to a report in The Indian Express, applicant Rohit Choudhary had sought information about how many surgical strikes on Pakistan were carried out between 2004 to 2014 and after September 2014, and how many of them were successful.
In its reply, Army DGMO stated: "This section does not hold any data pertaining to surgical strikes if carried out before September 29, 2016."
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently said that the armed forces were given a free hand to counter security threats under the Congress government as well. "Multiple surgical strikes took place during our tenure as well. For us, military operations were meant for strategic deterrence and giving a befitting reply to anti-India forces than to be used for vote garnering exercises," Singh was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
The BJP, however, questioned the claims made by Singh. Alleging that the Congress has a "habit of lying".
Union minister Prakash Javadekar on May 2 tweeted about the RTI, saying, "Till recently, Congress was asking for proof of surgical strike. Now they say they have conducted 6 such strikes! An RTI enquiry has revealed that the first #SurgicalStrikes happened in 2016 and NOT before. One more false claim by Congress! @BJP4Rajasthan @BJP4India."
Some Twitterati had then questioned which RTI was he talking about, the information was revealed on Tuesday afternoon when the response came in public domain.
However, contrary to the present data, Army Chief Public Information Officer Lt Colonel A D S Jasrotia had said in an RTI reply last year in April that the Indian Army "conducted surgical strike along the LC on September 29, 2016. No Indian soldier lost his life during the surgical strike".
Retired Lieutenant General DS Hooda, who directed the 2016 cross-LoC surgical strikes, also said that such operations happened in the past too, but disapproved of politicising the matter. Responding to a question on the Congress party's claim that six surgical strikes had been carried out during its rule too, Hooda said, "Certainly cross-border operations have been carried out by the Indian Army in the past too. I am not aware of the exact dates and areas."
The 2016 surgical strikes were carried out by Indian forces on terror camps across the Line of Control, 11 days after militants attacked an army camp at Uri killing 19 soldiers. Terror launch pads were destroyed and huge casualties inflicted among militants by Indian soldiers during the surgical strike.
While Pakistan had denied it, Congress had then accused BJP of politicising the country's defence forces.