Was Antony ‘constrained’ while commenting on killings: BJP

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PRASADNew Delhi August 7:The BJP on Wednesday wondered if Defence Minister A.K. Antony was “constrained” by some factors when he made the statement on the killing of five Indian soldiers along the LoC even as it asked the government to make clear the reasons for the “compulsion” to hold talks with Pakistan.

The Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that there are “palpable contradictions” in the statement made by the minister and the army.

“What is the mystery behind the statement of the Defence Minister,” Mr. Prasad asked.

He maintained that if as a Defence Minister he felt there was a need to change the statement from the one given by the army he could have done so. “But he ought to be fair to Parliament if he was doing so and said the statement has been changed for the underlined reasons,” Mr. Prasad said.

The party said though Mr. Antony claimed he had examined whether state and non-state actors from Pakistan were involved in the attack, it is “aghast” that he claimed terrorists were dressed as army personnel.

The main Opposition said in the wake of these developments it is “constrained” to say that Mr. Antony’s statement was aimed at giving an “escape route” to Pakistan government.

Mr. Prasad wondered why there is this compulsion in the government to hold talks with Pakistan. “Is security of India more important or the compulsion to hold talks,” he asked.

The BJP reiterated its demand that Mr. Antony apologise in Parliament. “If for some reasons he was constrained to make this statement he should make amends,” Mr. Prasad said.

The BJP maintained that though the heading of the written text of Mr. Antony’s statement was right as it said the ambush in which Indian soldiers were killed was by the Pakistan Army but the content of his statement said some persons wearing Pakistan Army uniforms were behind it.

“The heading of the Defence Minister’s statement is true to facts but the content has been changed for convenience. Why was he not speaking the whole truth in the House… He should kindly tell us whether we trust the title of his statement or the content?” Prasad said.

Referring to Mr. Antony’s comments on Wednesday that the Army chief is on a visit to the border areas to study details, he said this shows the Defence Minister is not sure of the facts.

“This is another reason why we feel he misled the House,” Mr. Prasad said.

Recalling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s words after the beheading of an Indian soldier earlier this year that “there cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan, BJP asked how it can be business as usual when five soldiers have been killed.

The BJP said the fact that this incident happened close to the LoC shows the terrorists and Pakistan Army were trying to enter.

The party further said that the army had issued a revised statement yesterday night to concur with Mr. Antony’s views. .

“While our soldiers sacrifice their lives their officers have to suffer such humiliation,” Mr. Prasad said.

In reply to a question on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s remarks that the Opposition stalling Parliament on this issue is bringing a bad name for India at the international fora, Mr. Prasad said for BJP national security is more important.

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