Defence Minister’s lies about terror attacks & Modi’s governance debunked

How accurate was Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s address on Bharatiya Janata Party’s political resolution at party’s two-day national convention in New Delhi? Here’s a fact check:

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Ashutosh Sharma

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has regularly been caught spreading fake news and lies in the past over four-and-a-half-year. Rallying the party workers ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made another addition to the never-ending list, on Saturday.

Speaking at BJP national convention in New Delhi, she stated: “BJP workers should highlight two things. First, that there has been no major terrorist attack after 2014. All attempts to wreak havoc in the country have been eliminated at the border itself and this government has ensured that there are no opportunities for terrorists to disturb peace.”

“And second, that we have had corruption-free five years. There has not been even a whisper of corruption in this government,” Sitharaman added.

How accurate was Defence Minister Sitharaman’s address; especially her statements on terror attacks, border conflict and governance under Modi’s rule? Here’s a fact check:

Terrorist attacks

Recurrent under Modi government, terrorist attacks in fact saw a significant spike after 2015. In 2018, for second year in a row, India remained the third largest victim of terror attacks across the world after Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the data released by US Department of state in September last year. Till 2015, Pakistan was the third most terrorism affected country in the world.

At least 941 terrorism and insurgency-related fatalities were recorded by the South Asia Terrorism Portal across the country last year, against 805 in 2017.

The surge in casualties was chiefly reported from Jammu and Kashmir, up from 354 in 2017 to 451 in 2018. Pertinently, an year after the 2016 surgical strike in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, there was at least 31 percent increase in deaths due to terrorist-related incidents.

The major terrorist attacks that took place during Modi rule included 2015 Manipur Ambush, 2015 Gurdaspur attack, 2016 Pathankot attack, 2016 Kokrajhar attack, 2016 Uri attack, Amarnath Yatra attack, 2017 Nagrota attack and 2017 Sukma attack among others.

The spectre of war

Residents along the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir are living under war clouds ever since BJP came to power at Centre.

Jammu and Kashmir recorded 2,936 instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2018. The truce violations were the highest in the past 15 years with an average of eight cases daily, in which 61 people were killed and over 250 injured. The exponential and unprecedented rise in violations has left the truce virtually redundant.

The number of violations by Pakistani troops in 2018 were over three times that of 2017, when 971 cases were reported. In 2017, 31 people – 12 civilians and 19 security forces personnel – were killed and 151 suffered injuries.

People living near the IB and LoC in Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts are the worst affected. Frequent shelling and firing prompted thousands of people to migrate to safer places on several occasions in the past over four years.

Stink of scams

“Absolutely there has been no corruption in this country…..not even whisper of corruption in this country under the leadership of PM Modi,” Sitharaman told the convention, adding, “Therefore, if an ordinary man wants to live in peace and bereft of corruption; that is the life PM Modi has brought in”.

Paradoxically, the cases of alleged scams under BJP rule hit new and dizzy heights. The country saw some of the biggest bank fraud cases under the government of PM Modi.

While PM Modi is accused of being directly involved in Rafale scam, his government is reeling under several setbacks over the escape of Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. A list of alleged scams and corruption cases that took place under Modi government, billed as the “A to Z of BJP Scams” by the Congress:

Pro-poor government?

“If one counts the number of pro-poor decisions Prime Minister Modi has taken, they would find that there has been on an average one decision every day over the last almost five years,” Sitharaman further stated at the convention.

But India, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2018, remains home to one third of world’s stunted children due to malnutrition. As many as 45 hunger related deaths were reported in 2018 from different states.

PM Modi and his coterie of ministers, however, certainly have something to gloat over when it comes to pro-rich decisions. India, according to Forbes, had 121 billionaires in 2018 against 102 in 2017. Prime Minister’s friend and Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani—who topped the annual list of India’s 100 richest tycoons for the tenth consecutive year in 2018—saw 67 percent increase in his net worth at a time when country’s economy is in doldrums.

Notably, PM Modi never forgets to reiterate at public rallies that he has been working day and night to double farmers’ income by 2022. But the hard fact is that his government has no farmer suicide data since 2015. Why is the government hiding the figures?

Ironically, the “pro-poor” Modi government has already splurged about Rs 5,000 crore on advertising so far. The expenditure equals what Manmohan Singh government had spent in the ten years.

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