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Armed Forces Always Had Free Hand to Hit Back: Surgical Strikes Hero Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda

"There has been too much talk about free hand given (to the military), but the Army is free on the border since 1947."

Panaji: The current government has shown great resolve in allowing the Army to carry out cross-border strikes but the hands of the armed forces were not tied before that either, Lieutenant General (retired) D S Hooda said Friday.

He was speaking at Goa Fest, an annual event here organised by advertising associations.

“The current government, in giving permissions for cross border operations like surgical strikes and Balakot air strike, has certainly shown great political resolve. But your army’s hands were not tied before that also,” Hooda said.

“There has been too much talk about free hand given (to the military), but the Army is free on the border since 1947. It has fought three-four wars,” he said.

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“The line of control is a brutal place because, as I said, your are being fired upon, and soldiers on the ground will respond immediately. They (soldiers) won’t even ask me. There is no question of taking any permission. There is free hand given to the Army and it has been there all along, there is no option,” he asserted.

Hooda also ridiculed statements (from some quarters) seeking proof of such military operations.

“Please have faith in your senior military leaders. When the director general of military operations comes out and says openly that we conducted a surgical strike, I see absolutely no reason for anybody to doubt it,” he added.

The retired Lt. General added that the armed forces had “not seen seen political interference by any governance”.

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“To be fair and to be honest in my dealings in military matters and how we should undertake military operations, we really did not have too much interference directly by political leaders. Nobody tells you how to behave at the line of control and this is what you need to do,” he said.

“So in that sense, political interference is not much,” Hooda said.

Lt General (retd) D S Hooda, a former Northern Army commander, now heads the Congress’ task force on national security.

Hooda headed the the Army’s Northern Command when special forces commandos carried out a cross-border operation in September 2016 after the Uri terror attack, in which 19 soldiers were killed.

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