New Delhi August 7;Defence Minister A.K.Antony’s statement on the killing on five soldiers on the Line of Control in Pooch sector led to a furore in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday with the Opposition accusing him of “exonerating” Pakistan Army of the attack.
Leading a scathing attack, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said the Defence Minister could not give “an escape route” to Pakistan and demanded an apology from him.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were repeatedly adjourned no substantive business was transacted except tabling of the National Food Security Bill that is to replace the Ordinance.
Ms. Swaraj said the Defence Minister’s statement on Tuesday had created “confusion” by trying to absolve the Pakistan Army in the attack and it was a “serious situation.”
Mr. Antony, who has been under fire for saying that “terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform”, told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that his statement was based on “whatever information” he had.
He said he would get back to the House if he got more details about the incident after the visit of Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh to Jammu. He said there would be no compromise on defence and protection of integrity of the country.
The BJP members, however, continued to target him and demanded apology from him for giving an “escape route” to Pakistan to deny involvement of its army in the incident, resulting in at least three adjournments before the Rajya Sabha closed its business for the day.
In the Lok Sabha, Ms. Swaraj said: “They (Pakistan Army) come to kill and our Defence Minister says Pakistan Army is not involved.” She quoted from the two statements issued by the Ministry of Defence and another read out by Mr. Antony in Parliament (on Tuesday) and said while the Defence Ministry had clearly said the attack was carried out by the Pakistani Army, Mr Antony described them as terrorists and some men in Pakistani Army uniforms.
She alleged that Mr. Antony got the version of the Army statement changed and questioned why the person of sincerity, honesty and integrity did so.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present in the House, Ms. Swaraj demanded a statement from him on the issues stating categorically that Pakistan Army was involved in the attack on the Indian post in Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had also given a notice for Breach of Privilege Motion in the Lok Sabha against Mr. Antony to which Speaker Meira Kumar told BJP leader Yashwant Sinha that his notice was under her consideration. A similar motion had been given in the Rajya Sabha also.
In the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Antony said he had made the statement (on Tuesday) on the “basis of whatever information I had. I will get back to Parliament after Army Chief’s visit” to the affected area.
An unrelenting g Opposition continued its attack with the BJP Leader Venkaiah Naidu saying: “Defence Minister has to clarify and tender an apology to the country. Government has let down the moral of the country and demoralised the Armed Forces.
Accusing government of “putting pressure on the Army”, Mr. Naidu asked whether the statement had been changed because of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposed visit to United Nations and hold talks with Pakistan there.