New Delhi: In the middle of the biggest political battle – Lok Sabha election 2019, the Congress is now claiming that there were ‘six surgical strikes’ carried out during the UPA regime. Targeting Narendra Modi government, Congress said that not only six strikes were done between 2008-2013 when UPA was in power, but two surgical strikes were done when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.

The statement by the grand old party came when the nation is hailing the air-strike done by Indian Air Force in which they destroyed Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) terror facility in Balakot, Pakistan. The airstrike came soon after the deadly Pulwama attack in which more than 40 CRPF men lost their lives. 

The Modi government carried out a surgical strike at the terror launch pad at PoK in 2016 post-Uri attack. The public is also claiming United Nations Security Council (UNSC) designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist a major win for India and yet another strike on terrorism.

The claim by Congress came in the middle of the election season, that too, after denial by the Army that there are no records or proofs of any surgical strike.

Senior Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an interview said, “surgical strikes took place during our tenure, too.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress was ‘afraid’ of celebrating the ‘diplomatic victory’ and was thus making claims of having conducted surgical strikes. Jaitley said the Congress was claiming surgical strikes now only to save political face in light of Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist.

Listing out the surgical strikes, Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said the first was conducted on June 19, 2008, in Bhattal Sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch. The second was conducted between Aug 30-September 1, 2011 in Sharda Sector across Neelam River Valley in Kel.

The third surgical strike was carried out on January 6, 2013, at Sawan Patra checkpost; fourth on July 27-28, 2013 at Nazapir Sector; fifth on August 6, 2013, at Neelam Valley; and sixth surgical strike on January 14, 2014.

Two such surgical strikes that were conducted during the Vajpayee tenure, as per Shukla, were on January 21, 2000, at Nadala Enclave across the Neelam River and on September 18, 2003, at Baroh Sector in Poonch.

The claim by Congress came despite the Directorate General of Military Operations of the Army’s clarification that it does not have records of any “surgical strike” conducted before September 29, 2016. The DGMO was responding to a specific question about surgical strikes being carried out between 2004 and 2014.

The DGMO at the integrated headquarters of the defence ministry (Army) said a "surgical strike" was carried out on September 29, 2016.

The RTI application with the Defence Ministry also sought the definition of the term "surgical strikes" in the records of Indian Army.

The DGMO replied, "As per the information available in open source the definition of surgical strike is... an operation which is planned based on specific intelligence, on a legitimate military target for maximum effect and with minimum or no collateral damage. It involves deliberate insertion to the target area, precise execution and swift extrication of the body of troops back to the base."

The application asked the Defence Ministry if the "surgical strike" mentioned in a DGMO statement of September 29, 2016, was the first ever in the history of the Indian Army.