Indian army on Thursday claimed it had crossed the LoC to conduct ‘surgical strikes’ across the border and killed scores of ‘terrorists’ planning to launch attacks against Indian targets.
The news came on the day a massive controversy was beginning to adversely impact the BJP president, Amit Shah, after his name surfaced in a suicide note of a former corporate affairs DG, BK Bansal.
The news sent social media users into frenzy as they rallied behind the Indian troops. People with right-wing ideology moved in with lightening speed to hurl I-told-you-so jibes at their ‘liberal’ enemies while singing praises for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was facing incredible heat following Uri attacks that killed 18 soldiers.
Several pro-government narratives were pushed through journalists and social media users, known to have soft spot for the BJP-led government.
One TV channel ran a special report looking at the last 24 hours of Modi and how he had stayed awake all through the night ‘without drinking a drop of water.’
Desperate attempts were made to make Modi look good as the report left no stone unturned in giving the prime minister sole credit for Thursday’s surgical strikes. From the said channel’s report, it appear as if the army had nothing to do with the anti-terror offensive across the border and Modi had single-handedly conceived, planned and executed the entire operation.
If the pro-government narrative on this TV channel wasn’t enough, the usual suspects on social media joined in desperately seeking to attribute the strikes to the strong nature of Modi government.
User Sadanand Dhume, known for his right-wing leaning, tweeted;
Old: 1. India hit. 2. Threatens response. 3. Backs off under pressure. New: 1. India hit. 2. Hits back. 3. World tells Pakistan to back off.
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) September 29, 2016
Then there were those who, being true to Modi-supporters, claimed that it was the first surgical strike by Indian government, thereby implying that the previous non-BJP governments particularly led by Congress party simply couldn’t muster courage to indulge in similar offensives in the past.
Historic day in Indian history.For the first time ever, India conducts surgical strikes inside our lost land of sharada.Congrats Army and PM
— True Indology (@TrueIndology) September 29, 2016
This despite the fact that the General, who was holding the news conference to inform about the surgical strikes, made it abundantly clear that Thursday’s wasn’t the first surgical strikes by any stretch of imagination.
Curiously though, no sooner had the general finished clarifying, one TV channel ‘abruptly’ cut him off, as observed by journalist Sujata Anandan.
Just asking y was genral who said this is not 1st surgical strike, only the first publicised one cut off abruptly by 1 channel.Not brot back
— Sujata Anandan (@sujataanandan) September 29, 2016
Congress leader Digvijay Singh sought to clarify that the claims of this being the first surgical strike were far from the truth as the army under the UPA government too had conducted several cross border offensives but never ‘hyped’ the issue as much as it was being done by the present regime.
Singh tweeted, “A reminder that Surgical Strike hasn’t been done for the first time. Only difference is that UPA/Congress didn’t hype the issue.”
@rachitseth A reminder that Surgical Strike hasn't been done for the first time. Only difference is that UPA/Congress didn't hype the issue
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) September 29, 2016
Singh is right! Indian army conducted at least two surgical strikes between 2007 and 2013 and they were reported too. But unlike this time around, Manmohan Singh did not stay awake or even if he did, he chose not to leak the information to favourable media outlets to seek cheap publicity or felt the need to prove any other point.
Dr Singh also did not employ any Twitter army to build a narrative to project an imaginary image so that this could help him extract the much-needed electoral mileage in the forthcoming elections.
Here are the detail on previous surgical strikes conducted by Indian army under Manmohan Singh regime. The following two were reported by media while on other occasions the military strategy of that time simply may not have allowed the army to announce the measures.
Titled as “Surgical Strikes: Indian army’s new method to deal with sub-conventional operations” India Today journalist Sandeep Unnithan wrote in January 2014, “Surgical strikes is how the army hopes to fight low-intensity conflicts or ‘sub-conventional operations’ (SCO) in the new doctrine unveiled by Army Chief General J.J. Singh. It faces its acid test in the recent massacre of over 50 people in Assam by the ULFA. The army has rushed in 3,000 soldiers, but it will certainly not use fighter aircraft to pop smart bombs into insurgent homes or call for artillery strikes on militant hideouts, like other armies in South Asia, because the SCO doctrine says civilians’ hearts and minds-and not dead terrorists- are at the centre of the entire operation.”
In the same piece, Unnithan went on to describe how a surgical strike by Indian army in November 2006 had helped the troops to eliminate terrorists with considerably less damage to its soldiers.
Addressing the annual Army Day press conference, the then Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh admitted killing of 10 Pakistani soldiers in a surgical strike. Gen Singh warned Pakistan that India would respond in equal measure if Pakistan violated any rules.
He rejected the perception that the Indian military had not retaliated against the beheading of its soldiers by Pakistani troops last year.
He had said, “Let me assure you that action has been taken…If I can invite the attention to the Geo TV report on December 23 which talked of their one officer and nine jawans being killed with 12-13 being wounded. This has happened due to firing of your soldiers on ground.”