Surgical strikes may still be one of the conflicting issues that liberals and right wing idealogues continue to debate over, but it seems the University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to end all discussions with a directive. The UGC has asked all universities and higher education institutions to observe ‘Surgical Strike Day’ on September 29.
This triggered a flurry of criticism from the Opposition, which forced the government to specify that the notification was actually an ‘advisory’. Political mudslinging aside, the other wave of Opposition comes from student leaders. “UGC’s celebration of surgical strike is apt, considering how the Modi govt surgical strike on youth, Student, workers, women, farmers, dalits, minorities and marginalized communities. Modi govt is destroying public-funded universities through a ‘surgical strike’ by endorsing universities like ‘JIO’,” S Balaji, Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) president tells InUth.
ABVP member Gaurav Jha, however, believes that the surgical strikes must be celebrated with the same fervour as Independence Day celebrations. “I believe all colleges must follow UGC’s directive because we have to celebrate our soldiers’ sacrifice and valour. The event has not been made mandatory. It’s just an advisory and those who don’t want to attend wouldn’t be forced to come to the event.”
The Opposition has presented a united front in rejecting the celebration of Surgical Strike Day. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “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!”
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: Kapil Sibal, Congress pic.twitter.com/jIhzkNBmaN
— ANI (@ANI) September 21, 2018
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted out a suggestion on how it could be celebrated better. “The best way to celebrate surgical strike day wud be for the PM to visit the family of Sh Narendra Singh, who was tortured and slain by Pak this week. PM shud assure the nation that Pak wud be given such befitting reply that it won’t dare do it again (sic).”
West Bengal education minister claimed the state would not celebrate the day.
“This is an agenda of the BJP and it is trying to push this agenda by using the UGC ahead of elections,” state minister Partha Chatterjee said.
Union Education Minister Prakash Javadekar, as a response to all the criticism, said, “We never mandate anything, we suggest and issue advisory. There is no politics, it is only patriotism. On 29th September (anniversary of the 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.”
Between the nights of September 28 and 29, 2016, the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK). On September 29, 2016, then Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) had declared that the strikes were conducted using ground forces with “significant casualties” on terrorists.