PM Modi with Army and BSF Jawans in Kashmir in 2017
There will be exhibitions across the country; Prasoon Joshi likely to write anthem, while children will be asked to write letters & cards to Army men
by Amrita Nayak Dutta
New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has decided to celebrate the Indian Army’s ‘Surgical Strike’ of 2016 through a massive publicity blitzkrieg that will include exhibitions extolling the armed forces, an anthem that will “invoke patriotism” and letters from children to serving defence personnel.
ThePrint has learnt that the proposed events will be launched on 29 September – the day the government announced the operation two years ago – which will be observed as Surgical Strike Day.
The move, ThePrint has learnt, is part of the Modi government’s efforts to project the ‘surgical strike’ as one of its top achievements ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The decision to hold the event was taken after meetings in this regard were held at the cabinet secretariat.
The government’s decision comes even as questions were raised on the ‘covert’ strike – from whether it was the first such strike, if it did qualify as a ‘surgical strike’ to if it was even prudent to publicly announce it.
Former Army chief General Ved Prakash Malik told ThePrint that there is no harm in celebrating major operations but added that they should not be politicised.
“We celebrate major operations like Kargil, for instance. If the boys have done a good job, there is no harm in celebrating an operation. But such events should not be politicised,” Malik said.
Some Army sources, however, told ThePrint that they were not too happy with the development. “Such covert operations need to be kept discreet and not unnecessarily hyped up,” a source told ThePrint.
In September 2016, the Modi government announced that the Indian Army had carried out precise strikes on terrorist launchpads across the border in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The ‘surgical strike’ was in retaliation to the militant attack on an Army outpost in Uri that killed 19 soldiers.
The government had then released a video to the media to counter questions raised by the opposition and validate that there indeed was a surgical strike.
A Host of Events
The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), ThePrint has learnt, will organise an exhibition around India Gate in New Delhi on the Role of Armed Forces in the Security of Nation.
It will display multimedia content to be chosen in consultation with the Defence Ministry’s publicity wing and the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
All state and UT capitals will organise similar exhibitions.
The planned exhibitions sites will have large LED screens; music from All India Radio, while artists would be roped in for live songs on patriotic themes.
ThePrint has learnt that the DAVP has also been asked to prepare a special anthem to “invoke patriotism”, which is likely to be penned by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Prasoon Joshi. Prominent singers will be lending their voice to it.
The Ministry of Defence is also trying to identify ex-servicemen for the event, who will be holding rallies, most likely in Delhi’s Rajpath.
Children and citizens will be asked to pledge their support for the Armed Forces by writing letters and cards to them. It has been proposed that the letters will be given to the nearest military cantonment that is likely to be opened for children to watch a display of weapons and military equipment.
Schools, colleges along with NCC and NSS cadets will be roped in for the task, a senior government official informed.
State-owned broadcaster Doordarshan will be covering the event live.
While DD News has been tasked with organising special news bulletins, interviews and discussions on the surgical strike theme, DD National will be playing patriotic films to mark the event.
All India Radio has also been tasked to conduct special programs such as interviews with armed forces officials, talk shows and song segments on the common theme.
The government has also proposed urging private television channels to include the commemoration event in their news bulletins, discussions and infotainment-based shows. Radio jockeys of private FM channels will also be asked to highlight the occasion on the radio.