Lt Gen Hooda will educate Congress that 2016 surgical strikes were a significant first for India: Jaitley

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said that Lt General (Rtd) DS Hooda, who has been roped in by Congress to head a task force on national security, would educate the party leaders that the surgical strikes in 2016 were “a significant first for India.”

“The appointment of General Hooda is significant. It is a belated and grudging recognition and acceptance of the surgical strikes of 2016 with which the General was intrinsically associated,” Jaitley wrote on Facebook.

“I am sure the Head of the Advisory Panel would educate the party leaders that the surgical strikes were no routine step which had been taken several times in the past, but a significant first for India,” he further wrote.

The Congress on Thursday tasked Lt Gen Hooda to prepare a “vision document” for the country’s security. According to Congress’ statement, he will lead the Task Force on national security, which is tasked to prepare “a vision paper for the country’s security in consultation with a select group of experts.”

Lt Gen Hooda, who had overseen the surgical strikes of September 2016 on terror camps across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, retired from the service in November 2016. In December last year, he had triggered a controversy by saying that the surgical strike was “overhyped and politicised.”

Writing further in his Facebook post, Jaitley went on to enumerate a few points on the issue of national security. He advised the Congress not to “give an impression to the world that India is divided on how to fight terrorism.”

“When the world is rallying around India, the Opposition in India should not be striking a discordant note,” Jaitley said. “Do not trivialise a serious national concern on terrorism as has been done by the Congress spokespersons in the past two days,” he said.

Union Finance Minister Jaitely also stated that from the “next time if extremists and separatists raise slogans on how to break India (the JNU incident), no one from mainstream parties should pay a supporting visit to them. There is no freedom of speech to advocate a breakup of India.”

Jaitley also added that the Congress should not “encourage indiscriminate illegal immigration into India and block steps which are taken to stop it. It hurts national security.”

“Our Armed forces are amongst the most professional organisations which have served this country exceedingly well. They work under a civilian command and maintain an arm’s length distance from the internal politics of the country,” he said.

“Politicians of any shade of opinion should not get into slanging match with any of the services personnel or their Chief. The Chief of a Force can’t be described as a ‘Sadak ka Goonda’,” Jaitley noted.

Citing the Batla House encounter in Delhi, Jaitley said that Congress should not “legitimise terrorism by standing shoulder to shoulder with the terrorists and call the war against terror as a fake encounter.”

Later giving example of the Ishrat Jahan case, Finance Minister Jaitley asserted the Congress leaders should not “let lose investigative agencies on the intelligence and security network of India.”

He said: “To serve petty political gains, do not politicise defence procurement on false and imaginary facts. It hurts defence preparedness.”