Former Union defence minister and Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar said here on Friday that the defence ministry was in shambles when he took over its reins in November 2014. “When I was the defence minister, and I can tell you this, when I took over, the defence ministry was in pure shambles, total…. There was total chaos,” Parrikar said.
Giving an example of the decay in the defence ministry, he said it was “worse than what is GIDC (Goa Industrial Development Corporation)”, which has often been criticised by the industrialists.
“How many of you will know that the bullet required for strafing by the attack helicopter, we had just one and a half days’ stock with us in 2014. We are talking about an Army that is supposed to be fighting fit,” Parrikar told the annual general meeting of Goa State Industries Association.
He also recalled the planning that led to the execution of two surgical strikes across the India-Myanmar border and the Indo-Pak border. Parrikar said when he learned of the attack on 6 Dogra Regiment in Manipur and the death of 18 Army soldiers, he felt personally “insulted”.
“On June 5, the Army chief came to talk to me on an urgent basis and informed me that 18 Indian Army soldiers had been martyred due to attack by some terrorist organisation. It was an insult to me. I felt insulted. A small terrorist organisation like NSCN -K (National Socialist Council of Nagaland) killing so many Indian Army soldiers was definitely an insult to me,” Parrikar said to a rapt audience of industrialists and technocrats.
While details remain clothed in secrecy, it is known that the Army conducted a surgical strike on terrorist camps beyond the Indo-Myanmar border. “Now the news leaked, but we didn’t leak it. But one question hurt me. Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, being an ex-Army man, was explaining about such operations and one of the news anchor asked him: Would you have the courage and capability of doing the same on the western front?” Parrikar said in his special address.
“After a successful surgical strike, this was another insult to me, which I listened to very intensely but decided to answer when the time comes,” he said.
“We started preparations for the September 29 surgical strike on June 9, exactly 15 months prior to the event. We started planning for any eventuality at least 15 months in advance. Additional troops were trained, they were located in the 15th Corps and 16th Corps, equipment was procured on priority basis, including guns, and were moved into difficult positions,” Parrikar said.