In a major defence achievement, India on Wednesday successfully tested an anti-satellite missile by shooting down a decommissioned satellite that was on a 'Low Earth Orbit' at a height of 300 Km from the earth's surface. In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country has joined the space powers club by shooting down a Low Earth Orbit(LEO) satellite with an anti-satellite missile or A-SAT.
In an exclusive interview to Republic TV, former Defence Minister under the UPA government AK Antony, who held the post between 2006 and 2014, said that he was not informed of the 'Mission Shakti' during that time.
"I was not told by anybody about it. I was not told it started," the former Defence Minister under UPA government said.
On being questioned about the claims made by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge saying that the mission was ready in 2012 but the scientists could not test it during that (2012-2013) time, he reiterated saying that he was not informed about the mission by the then government. AK Antony further refused to comment about Kharge's statement, adding that he did not want to politicise the matter.
"Nobody told me if we were ready for this test under UPA. You can ask the Defence Secretary and check the records. I wasn’t told about this. I don’t want to politicise it, I wasn’t aware of the space warfare programme," he added on being questioned about Kharge's claims.
Responding on India's remarkable achievement of becoming a space superpower after the successful completion of 'Mission Shakti' under PM Modi's leadership, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had claimed that the Mission was ready during the UPA tenure as well. However, they could not go forward with it due to some reasons, which he did not disclose.
"This was ready in 2012 but could not be used at that time. It was ready that time only but now it is being tested. I can only say that the people who were involved during the making of this, I am thankful to them," Kharge had said.
Antony's remarks come in contradiction to the disclosure made by VK Saraswat, who was the DRDO chief during the UPA government, saying that India was ready to launch the mission during that time, however, the UPA government had blocked the Mission. Earlier, in an exclusive interview with Republic TV, former DRDO chief VK Saraswat had revealed that in 2012 and 2013, the UPA government had blocked 'Mission Shakti' even though the DRDO was ready with the necessary steps.
"We had already complete the stimulation process. We wanted to combine the capabilities of our Ballistic missile system and the developed capabilities of AGNI program to get results in the same direction. However, we still had to develop certain technology for which we wanted resources and permission. But no such permission was granted to us during 2012-13 and even 2014. But under the leadership of PM Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, we were able to get all the required permission. The DRDO set the integration, realisation and demonstration," VK Saraswat said.
India on Wednesday entered the elite international club of four countries (US, Russia and China) for successfully testing an anti-satellite missile.
"India has successfully registered its name as a space power. Till now three countries of the world- America, Russia and China had this feat. India is the fourth country to have achieved this feat. There could be a no bigger moment of pride. A short while ago our scientists have shot-down a live satellite in low earth orbit (LEO) in space through an anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile," Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the nation.