NEW DELHI: Amid row over University Grants Commission's advisory to celebrate September 29 as 'Surgical Strike Day', HRD Ministry has said that the circular is only advisory in nature, not mandatory or imposed. Hitting back at allegations, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said that there is 'no politics, only patriotism'.
"We have not made any compulsions on institutions or students. We have issued a program because of suggestions from many students and teachers that they need to commemorate the second anniversary of surgical strike," Javadekar said.
Javadekar also said that the government has advised colleges to arrange lectures by ex-army officers who can tell the students how defence forces defend the country. "On 29th September, 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," he said.
Opposition parties have been attacking the Central government over the decision to celebrate September 29 as Surgical Strike Day. Lashing out at the government, Congress had said that such a directive is destroying the independence of the university system. "It is absolutely shocking. In fact, I don't think since independence, we have seen UGC giving any kind of directive of this nature to universities. For UGC, to give a directive is destroying the very independence of the university system," Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.
West Bengal government had already said that they will not participate in the celebrations. Criticising the BJP-led central government for trying to "malign and politicise" the Army, state education minister Partha Chatterjee had said: "This is an agenda of the BJP and it is trying to push this agenda by using the UGC ahead of elections. It is a matter of shame that they are using the UGC to achieve their political agenda."
Chatterjee said, "We would have understood it had they asked us to observe the day in the name of sacrifices made by our soldiers. We have full respect for our soldiers and their sacrifices."
"The Indian Army has always been kept above politics and controversies. But now we are seeing that the BJP is trying to malign and politicise the Indian Army. This is not right and we won't support it," he said.
On September 29 in 2016, the Indian Army carried out "surgical strikes" on seven terrorist launchpads across the LoC as a response to an attack on its base in Uri earlier that month. The Indian Army had said its special forces inflicted "significant casualties" on terrorists waiting there to cross onto the Indian territory.