Thursday, February 2, 2023
HomeOpinionModi MonitorAs PMO releases surgical strikes videos, questions over timing remain

As PMO releases surgical strikes videos, questions over timing remain

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With the surgical strikes video now featuring the PM, attempts at politicising the army in the name of nationalism are being made.

The videos of the surgical strikes against Pakistan from 29 September 2016, given to select TV channels on the evening of 27 June, were released by either Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, or by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, it is learnt. They were not released by the Ministry of Defence.

The day after the videos were released, the PM travelled to Maghar to pay his respects to Kabir, the saint who scoffed at all formal religiosity. The day before, in Delhi, Modi had spoken to people across the country over satellite link on the BJP’s schemes and programmes.

But there was nothing on his own Twitter timeline, party president Amit Shah’s Twitter feed, or indeed, the BJP’s social media handles to suggest why the surgical strikes videos were released this week.

As the controversy over the videos snowballed, with former BJP minister Arun Shourie leading the charge and calling them “farzical videos” (a play on surgical, farcical, and the Urdu word ‘farzi’, which means fake), questions around the timing of the release refused to go away.

Then, Friday morning at 9 am, the BJP Twitter handle @BJP4India gave the game away. It posted a video, 2 minutes and 12 seconds long, complete with soundtrack and shots of the PM wagging his finger and saying, “Yeh Modi hai. Usi bhasha mein jawab dena jaanta hai.”

Saugandh mujhe is mitti ki

Main desh nahin mitne doonga

Main desh nahin mitne doonga

Main desh nahin jhukne doonga

Make no mistake, this is a campaign video. It could not have been released without the permission of party president Shah. It is likely the PM would have known.

The link to Modi in London

The video starts gloomily, with a hand-drawn map showing the location of Uri, the army camp where 18 sleeping soldiers were killed in their tents by Pakistani terrorists. It moves on to a clip of the PM saying the nation will “never forget” this incident; to the Lieutenant General at the time announcing surgical strikes across the LoC into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir; to the just-released videos of the strikes Wednesday evening; and ending with stentorian comments by the Prime Minister in London on 18 April when he spoke to the Indian diaspora.

You need to go back to that 18 April conversation between the PM and Prasoon Joshi in London to put the current controversy into perspective. The PM starts by speaking of himself in the familiar third person and goes on to promise an “eent ka jawab pathhar se” response.

Toh yeh Modi hai, usi bhasha main jawab dena jaanta hai,” Modi says, as slogans of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ resound through the hall.

Hamaare jawanon ko tent main soye hue, koi bujhdil aake unko maut ke ghat pe utar de. Aap logon main se koi chahega ki main chup rahoon? Kya unko eent ka jawab pathhar se dena chahiye ki nahin dena chahiye?” the PM asks.

(Only Modi knows how to answer fire with fire. When innocent soldiers sleeping in their tents were killed, do you think I should keep quiet? Or should they be punished?)

“That is why we did the surgical strikes,” Modi goes on to add. “I am proud of my army and my soldiers, that they implemented the strategy with complete precision.”

Politicising the army

As TV channels this week juxtaposed some of these comments with the surgical strikes videos, the question remained: What is the significance of the timing of the release of the video?

Certainly, the authenticity of the videos is not in question. Soon after the strikes took place, there was a discussion as to whether the government should make the “proof” of its strikes public.

The Army chief at the time, Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, was not in favour, but retired Lt Gen. D.S. Hooda, the northern army commander who monitored the operation from command headquarters in Udhampur, believed the videos should be aired. In the end, the Army decided to give the videos to the government to do as it pleased.

This week, the government was pleased to release the videos. And like Arun Shourie, several army officers are now reportedly asking why the BJP’s politics is trumping national security. Most agree that no country in the world exposes their special forces to public scrutiny like this.

Even when the Americans went in to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, they refused to confirm or deny any of the operational details, despite the several books that have since come out, including by those who participated in the operation. According to retired Lt Gen. Prakash Katoch, Ajit Doval spoke to his US counterpart on the eve of the surgical strikes.

With Amit Shah meeting Gen. Suhag as part of his ‘Sampark se Samarthan’ campaign, army men, both serving and retired, are increasingly disturbed. With the surgical strikes video now featuring the PM, attempts at politicising the army in the name of nationalism and patriotism are clearly being made.

According to Shourie, “the problem comes when you start tom-tomming about it – that we have broken the jaw of Pakistan, I have a 56-inch chest, I have done this… Then it becomes a ‘farcical’ strike.”

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  1. Jyoti who cares whether it was for the benefit of the upcoming elections ,do you have nothing better to report , we can make our own minds up why the videos were released.

  2. One could give the benefit of doubt to the Govt. of mustering the courage to authorize the strikes. After all, who would have been roasted if ,God forbid, we suffered casualties?
    Every Indian would feel proud of our forces after viewing the videos.
    Coming to the politicisation of the strikes, well, what is NOT politicised these days? Finally the less said about Arun Shourie the better. It’s a disgusting case of sour grapes, just like Yashwant Sinha.

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