New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Tuesday courted controversy by terming the dastardly Pulwama terror attack an “accident”, drawing a sharp retort from BJP which said his statement was making headlines in Pakistan.
Tweeting in Hindi, he said after the Pulwama “durghatna” (accident) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) strike, “sandeh” (doubt) is being expressed in some foreign media reports following which “vishwasniyata” (credibility) of the Government of India is under question.
The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, who has made controversial statements in the past, also questioned the casualty claim in the February 26 air raid and demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come clear on the same.
“Prime Minister, some ministers of your government say 300 terrorists killed, BJP president says 250 are killed, Yogi Adityanath says 400 people were killed and your minister SS Ahluwalia says that no one died. And you are silent about this issue. The country wants to know who is a liar in this,” Digvijaya Singh said.
The Rajya Sabha member’s statement comes at a time when many opposition leaders are raising questions on the Balakot strike by IAF and are asking for proof on the exact casualty inflicted on terrorists.
He later told reporters here, “What else will you call a terrorist attack.”
Hitting out at Digvijaya Singh, BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress leader’s remarks were making headline news in Pakistan.
Another BJP leader and Union Minister VK Singh asked him whether the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was a terror incident or just an “accident”.
Prasad said, “Has Digvijaya Singh reduced himself to such a low level that he will call the most heinous terrorist attack on 45 CRPF jawans an accident? This is his thinking.”
At a press conference here, he said that there is a “growing competition” among Congress leaders as to who is “more vocal in lowering the morale of the security forces”.
“I would appeal to Congress that for the sake of India, please don’t reduce the morale, courage and prestige of our forces for your extraneous political interest. They neither have faith in the Army, nor the Air Force. And this is all for votes. We will like to know is all this tweeting a part of the conspiracy. The statement of the Congress spokesperson is making headline news in Pakistan,” he said.
“However, what else will you expect from Digivjaya Singh. After the Batla House encounter, Singh went to Azamgarh and questioned the police operations. He has called Zakir Naik a symbol of humanity. He is the same person who had said Osama ji and Hafiz Saeed Saab”, Prasad said.
He also came down heavily on Congress for questioning the outcome of the IAF raid in Balakot and demanding evidence on the casualty figure.
VK Singh, who is Minister of State for External Affairs, said in Ranchi, “With due respect, I would like to ask Digvijaya Singh Ji, was Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination an accident or a terror incident? Let him answer this first.”
Last week, BJP president Amit Shah had claimed that over 250 terrorists were killed in the IAF air raid.
On Shah’s statement, VK Singh said that he did not give a “confirmed figure” and it was just an “estimate”.
“It’s an estimate. He is not saying this is a confirmed figure. He is saying these many people might have died,” the former Army Chief said.
“The figure is of the attack on Balakot (in Pakistan). The attack was only at one place, nowhere else. The target was selected carefully, away from residential areas, to avoid civilian casualty,” he told reporters.
Asked about Digvijaya’s remarks, Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath declined to comment.
Earlier, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had also attacked Congress for its comments on Balakot strike and said that only “Congress party can do this sin of refuting the information of armed forces”.
“What has happened to Congress? They are talking exact opposite to sentiments of the nation, they are refuting the information of armed forces. This doesn’t happen in any other democratic country where distrust is shown towards armed forces itself. Only Congress can do this sin,” the BJP leader said.
After the 2008 Batla house encounter, Digvijaya Singh had questioned the veracity of Delhi Police’s evidence. He had also once used a suffix indicating respect for UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed.
In August 2016, he had also addressed Jammu and Kashmir as India-occupied Kashmir. However, he later clarified that it is an integral part of India.
While speaking at an event in Ahmedabad, Prime Minister Modi had on Monday asserted that terrorists will be hunted even if they hide deep underneath the Earth and asked his critics not to question the valour of the armed forces even if they are not willing to trust him.
IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Monday said the fighter planes had hit the target given to them but he cannot give the number of casualties suffered as it is for the government to do so.
India carried out the air strike in less than two weeks after the terror attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.