IN A SENSATIONAL DISCLOSURE, former Union Minister and now a strong critic of Narendra Modi government, Arun Shourie has said he had "personal knowledge” that Indian army conducted a surgical strike 14 kilometres inside Pakistan during Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, killed 10-15 persons and brought seven bodies from across the border into India.
"But we kept quiet and it has never been talked about," Shourie told Shekhar Gupta during an interview under Gupta's "Off the Cuff" programme, telecast by NDTV.
Castigating the government for the hype created around surgical strike against Pakistan, Arun Shourie, narrated the incident that ostensibly happened during the Vajpayee years but did not say where exactly had the strike happened. Shourie was a minister in the Vajpayee government.
"I am telling you this from absolutely personal knowledge. I can't reveal his (the person who planned the strike) name...they (the Pakistanis) had done something evil (and) to teach them a lesson, a raid was planned 14 km inside Pakistan. They killed everybody there (at the forward post of Pakistan), probably about 10-15 persons and lugged seven bodies back across the border into India," Shourie said.
This is the first time that this particular surgical strike has ever been mentioned by any politician.
Last year, the Narendra Modi government had claimed that India carried out a military raid across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir on September 29. While the BJP made a lot of political and electoral capital out of this surgical strike, the Congress and other political parties had questioned the wisdom of making the fact public and said such strikes had happened in the past, too.
Former Defence Minister P Chidambaram had then said that the UPA government had decided not to make public the fact of cross-border raids.
Shourie's revelations are likely to trigger off more controversy. Arun Shourie even said the Indian army jawans brought with them "as a trophy" the guest book of the forward post of Pakistan that they destroyed.
"It so happened that (Pakistan President Pervez) Musharraff had visited the forward post 10 days before this raid and had written in the guest book – "What a good job you people are doing, keep it up".
The guest book is now lying at one of the regimental headquarters," Shourie said.
He advised caution against upping the rhetoric about the situation along the Pakistan and China border.
He said the aggressive tone of India against Pakistan is pushing Islamabad into Beijing's lap.
He also advised the powers that be to focus on capacity building and carry out the urgent steps as per the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra committee report instead of indulging in hyper talk.
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