The announcement, at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, comes amid a bitter political fight between the Congress and the BJP over the issue. The Congress had accused the ruling party of taking political credit for the September 29 surgical strikes, saying such actions were taken during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as well.
According to sources, in reply to a query from Congress member Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told the parliamentary panel that surgical strikes had taken place earlier, too, but were not announced by the government. Jaishankar replied in the affirmative when Chaturvedi specifically asked him if the Indian Army had crossed the LoC earlier and if Indian soldiers had killed terrorists before, said the sources.
When some members wanted to know about Pakistan’s repeated denials of the September 29 surgical strikes, Vice-Chief of Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat said, “Our boys did the job. Now we are collating information from different sources.” He also briefed the lawmakers about limited target and limited operations of the army, the sources said.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, a member of the panel, also attended the meeting but did not ask any questions, said the sources. Rahul had targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing politics over the sacrifices made by the soldiers.
Sources said the meeting was found to be satisfactory by most members, as senior government officials — including Jaishankar, Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Special Secretary (Internal Security) M K Singla and BSF Director-General K K Sharma — briefed the lawmakers and answered their queries.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor, a former UN diplomat and a former junior minister in the ministry of external affairs, heads the parliamentary standing committee.
CPI(M) member Mohammad Salim had a brief altercation with BJP lawmaker Sharad Tripathi, who poked fun at the Opposition members saying they were feeling insecure after the September 29 surgical strikes, said the sources. Salim responded by saying that the Indian Army was capable of protecting the country and its citizens and that the lawmakers were asking questions keeping in mind the national security considerations, said the sources.
Issues like the fallout of the recent surgical strikes and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir were also discussed during the meeting, the sources added.