Controversy in Kerala as Congress MP rakes up Pulwama attack to target BJP

Congress MP Anto Antony
Congress MP Anto Antony

Pathanamthitta | A controversy erupted in Kerala on Wednesday after Congress MP Anto Antony levelled serious allegations against the BJP, claiming that the saffron party secured victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by "exploiting the sacrifices of jawans" killed in the Pulwama attacks.

Addressing a press conference here, he also seemed to suggest that Pakistan had no involvement in the Pulwama attack, sparking strong reactions from the BJP, which demanded that a case be filed against Antony for alleged sedition.

"Did they not win the last elections by leveraging the sacrifice of the 42 (sic) jawans who were stationed in an area where there is 40 per cent oxygen deficiency enduring extreme climatic conditions while guarding the nation?," Antony asked, while attacking the union government saying this time their election trump card is the notifying of the rules of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

"This time, it's about the CAA. What about last time? It was Pulwama. And what was Pulwama? Wasn't it the sacrifice of our 42 (sic) jawans?," Antony asked.

The Pulwama attack took place on February 14, 2019 when a convoy of vehicles transporting CRPF personnel on the Jammu–Srinagar National Highway was targeted by a suicide bomber in a vehicle at Lethapora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel -- not 42 personnel as the Pathanamthitta MP mistakenly mentioned.

Antony is the Congress candidate for the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat, which he has represented since 2014.

His comment comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit Pathanamthitta on March 17 to canvass votes for Anil K Antony, the BJP candidate and son of Congress stalwart A K Antony.

When a reporter raised the issue of Pakistan's involvement in the Pulwama attack, the Pathanamthitta MP responded sharply, asking, "What involvement did Pakistan have in the Pulwama blast?"

To strengthen his argument, the Congress MP cited an interview of then Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik regarding the Pulwama terror attack, in which the BJP-appointed head of state had said that usually such long army convoys are not sent by road in an area with militancy and that they are usually provided helicopters for transport.

Anto Antony claimed that the former governor had stated that the jawans, intended to be transported by helicopter, were "purposefully" directed by road through a route where a blast occurred.

He also claimed that the former governor had confirmed the then army general's suspicions that the large quantity of the explosive RDX used in the Pulwama attack could not have arrived in a place like Kashmir without the knowledge of the government apparatus.

BJP state president K Surendran condemned the Congress MP's remarks, stating that he had insulted the country by denying Pakistan's role in the Pulwama terror attack.

Surendran said Antony should be charged with sedition and arrested.

"Antony must clarify for whose support he made such a derogatory statement. This remark disrespected the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the nation, Surendran said, adding that it would bring down the morale of the army.

He said he believed that the voters of Pathanamthitta who are patriots would express their dissent against Antony's pro-Pakistan stance through their votes.

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