Hitting out at the Opposition and Congress in particular over questioning the air strikes inside Pakistan after Pulwama terror attack, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday, 24 March said the armed forces were ready to act even after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. She added that the BJP government gave freedom to the armed forces to act and they delivered.
She claimed the armed forces had told the then government that if it wants them to do something they were ready and sought approval.
“Clear evidence showed Pakistan had perpetrated it. You (then Congress government) don’t give the freedom to the armed forces to even stand up with honour.”Nirmala Sitharaman
"That's what this government has done and gave the freedom to the armed forces that you decide the time, you decide the way and how to handle because you are the best persons to handle it," Sitharaman said.
"They (armed forces) took the call and precisely the way in which they had to deliver –which was much to the shock of Pakistan and entire world that India was capable of doing an operation of this kind precisely even in the opponent's territory, " she said.
It wouldn’t have been necessary if only the previous government had taken a deterrent measure after the Mumbai attack, Sitharaman said.
Pakistan, which kept saying it was also a victim of terror attack after the Pulwama incident, also did not take action against camps where terrorists were being trained, according to Sitharaman.
"Therefore we had to take the action," she said.
Congress’ Approach Has Been to Not Respect the Armed Forces: Sitharaman
Not respecting armed forces, but to bring them to shame to make them kneel down to their interests and even defame them has been the approach of the Congress party, Sitharaman alleged.
"None of their (Congress) alliance partners, be it from the Communists to the regional parties who are their friends today, could even say please don't make ‘badnaam’ of our armed forces," she said at an event in Hyderabad.
"Today they shed crocodile tears for Pulwama," she alleged.
The government, Sitharaman said, had credible information that more such (Pulwama like) suicide terror attacks may happen and to prevent such attacks “we had to take a pre-emptive strike in Balakot.”
Sitharaman was addressing an ex-servicemen and intellectuals meet in Hyderabad organised by BJP candidate N Ramchander Rao who is contesting from the Malkajgiri Lok Sabha segment.
“They (Opposition) even had the courage to ask the government for evidence,” she said.
“...The brave soldiers and air warriors go there to perform the task and not to take selfies. They don’t need to come and show you (evidence).”Nirmala Sitharaman
"That's not the business of a soldier. He goes, finishes his task and gets back in safety to his country," she said.
You Saw the Dignity With Which Abhinandan Stood Up: Sitharaman
"And one unfortunate man (Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman) who was held by Pakistan, you saw the dignity with which he stood up and the honour with which he held up his responsibility as a PoW," she said.
Varthaman was captured by Pakistan on 27 February after his MiG 21 Bison went down during a dogfight with Pakistani jets. But before his plane was hit, Varthaman shot down a F-16 of Pakistan air force.
"Standing there and wouldn't speak a word of what he should not be saying there. That's the training of a professional Indian soldier. Would you want to honour and respect them or would you want to demean them by calling 'sadak ka goonda'. By asking for evidence. How many people were dead...is there a limit...ridiculous," Sitharaman said.
She said during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, 90,000 Pakistan soldiers were sent back unconditionally by India.
If There Has Been a Govt Which Understood the Needs of Men in Uniform, It was Modi Govt: Sitharaman
"And after our PoW was sent back ... in Pakistan that was touted as a peaceful gesture," and demands were even made in Pakistan that Prime Minister (Imran Khan) should be given nobel prize.
Sitharaman said she could understand Pakistan saying that.
"Why would some sections in India speak that voice? I was astonished... Who are these people mentioning it and the political parties who are supporting them? We do not want this and therefore the return of Narendra Modi (back to power at the Centre) is important," Sitharaman said.
“If there has been a government which has understood the needs of ex-servicemen and the men in uniform and catered to their every needs, it was this government under Modi.”Nirmala Sitharaman
Slamming the Congress, Sitharman alleged that senior Congress leaders called the Army Chief a “sadak ka goonda” (goon on the street). “I am sorry to say it hurts me... shame on that party."
"The Chief of Air Staff has been called a liar by the Congress party because their vested interest was not served ... Rafale (fighter jet deal) came through not during their period but during Modi's period," Sitharaman said.
(With PTI inputs)