A massive political slugfest has erupted after the University Grants Commission (UGC) directed varsities and higher educational institutions across the country to observe September 29 as "Surgical strike day". Even as the opposition parties are questioning the government move, the Union HRD Minister has said said that the directive to observe Surgical Strike day is not a diktat, but only an advisory. Union HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar has also insisted that celebrating the valour of armed forces shouldn’t be seen from the prism of politics.
"On 29th Sept (anniversary of surgical strike), we have asked colleges, those who want to, can arrange a lecture by ex-army officers who can tell the students how defence forces defend the country and how the surgical strike was conducted. We have not made any compulsions on institutions or students. We have issued a programme because of suggestions from many students and teachers that they need to commemorate the second anniversary of surgical strike," said Union HRD Minister Prakash Javedar.
In a communication to all Vice Chancellors on Thursday, the UGC letter prescribed talk-sessions by ex-servicemen about sacrifices by the armed forces, special parades, visit to exhibitions and sending greeting cards to pledge their support for armed forces, among other activities.
The UGC letter also said that the letters and cards written by the students “should be shared with PRO Defence and PIB for publicity across various media.”
However, even though the motive behind the UGC directive is to celebrate the intrepidity of the security forces, the Opposition leaders are vehemently criticising the move, calling the UGC advisory a way for the BJP to ‘use army to satisfy their own political agenda.’
Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, while criticising the move, said:
“This is BJP's agenda. And, BJP is trying to implement it before elections. They are using UGC for this. We have enough respect for the country and we also respect our armed forces. If they want to pay tribute to the martyrs, we have no objection. But, why celebrate Surgical Strike? It's important to pay tribute to the martyrs. But, this is simply BJP's agenda which is not right. Armed forces have always remained beyond politics. But now, they are trying to politicise armed forces also. This is not right and we will not follow this.”
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, that the UGC directive is just another mean to serve BJP’s political agenda.
“UGC directs VC’s of all universities to celebrate 29th September as Surgical Strike Day. Is this meant to educate or to serve BJP’s political ends? Will UGC dare celebrate 8th November as Surgical Strike Day depriving the poor of their livelihoods ? This another jumla!” wrote Sibal on Twitter.
RJD’s Manoj Jha has called the advisory a ‘spectacle crafted to hide regime’s failure’.
“A spectacle crafted meticulously 2 hide complete failure of d regime on all fronts besides digressing public attention from Rafael Scam, Neerva Modi, Mehul Bhai, Vijaya Mallaya etc. UGC asks universities to celebrate 'Surgical Strike Day' on September 29 (sic),” he said.
Meanwhile, the JNU VC has welcomed the move and said, “JNU is proud of our defence forces as the officers who graduate from India's six major defence institutes are our alumni. We can be secure from external threats only when our armed forces are strong. They deserve our support and gratitude.”
Indian Army carried out surgical strike on Pakistan on September 29, 2016, consequently eliminating at least 38 terrorists. The precision attacks were carried out by the Indian Army after 19 soldiers were martyred in Pakistan-sponsored attack.