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Cong to govt: Yagna not a solution

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday said a yagna cannot solve national security problems and asked the Centre to instead tell the country what steps it had taken to tackle the alarming rise in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and fatalities among Indian soldiers.

"Comparative statistical details of the last 45 months of the UPA regime and the 45 months of the Narendra Modi government show the situation has worsened very badly. In the 45-month period, while there were 543 ceasefire violations in J&K by Pakistan during the UPA's time, the number is 2,555... now. In this period, 115 jawans lost their lives in terror attacks during the UPA's time while 286 have died during this government's rule," party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

While 72 civilians had died under the UPA in the 45-month period, under the NDA 138 had been killed, Singhvi said. The number of jawans killed in ceasefire violations was 19 under the UPA and 62 under the NDA, he added.

"Modiji used to ruthlessly attack the Manmohan Singh government on issues of infiltration, terror funding, extradition of terrorists etc but he is not willing to answer those questions. The 56-inch chest has given us a worrying ground reality and hollow assurances," Singhvi said.

The BJP is organising a Rashtra Raksha Mahayagna ( yagna for national security) for which home minister Rajnath Singh flagged off a yatra on Wednesday, signalling it has the Modi government's blessings. The yatra is meant to fetch soil, water and other material for the yagna from across the country, including Kashmir and Doklam.

"The reality is that the yagna can't solve the problems. The government can't play with national security. Deal with the hard facts and tell the nation what measures you have taken to strengthen the internal systems," Singhvi said.

However, the Congress avoided direct criticism of the religious exercise. Senior party leaders believe the yagna was aimed at whipping up religious passions before the 2019 general election and diverting people's attention from the government's failures. But they avoided talking about it and kept the focus on security issues.

Singhvi said: "The five-member committee headed by former army vice-chief Lt General Philip Campose to probe the attack on the Pathankot airbase submitted its report in mid-May 2016. What is the level of implementation of the recommendations so far?"

He continued: "The panel undertook a comprehensive audit and formulated upgraded standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all defence installations to prevent fidayeen attacks. It found that the security set-up is quite poor in most places, with command and control problems and ambiguous SOPs without specific responsibilities and responses being assigned to personnel. The guards at the bases are poorly equipped and continue to use outdated rifles which are no match for the AK-47s of terrorists. Quick-reaction teams do not have bullet-proof jackets and night-vision devices."

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