As expected, many reactions and a series of news reports emerged throughout the day on 29 September 2016, since Indian Army’s eight surgical strikes on Pakistani terrorists’ camps/launch pads across the Line of Control, in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), from 0030 hours onwards.
The Indian Army’s brilliant action into POK, Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan, has rattled its army and government and warmed the hearts of many in India, not only from the armed forces but also the public. And many are blessing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for exercising the political will to implement what should have been done decades ago, or at least after 26/11 in Mumbai. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s few past remarks, or for that matter National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ram Madhav suggesting a jaw for a tooth, all stand vindicated.
Late Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh, Bihar Regiment, one if the 19 soldiers killed on 18 September at Uri (two died later), hailed from Raktu Tola village, Bhojpur district, Bihar, from where many serve in the Army. Havildar Singh’s brother Kamta Singh also of Bihar Regiment died in action in 1986 in Rajasthan. His elder son, Vikas Singh, and his two nephews are also in the Army. His teenage son, Vishal Singh, waiting for his father’s body to arrive, in tears, pledged that he too would join the Army, but lamented, “We don’t give the terrorists a befitting reply. We must.” Ashok’s family will now feel some satisfaction. Some more widows who expressed similar sentiments may also be feeling a bit consoled.
When the family of Uri martyr Jawra Munda was conducting shradh rituals and heard about the surgical strike, his widow expressed that “the dogs out of their minds deserved to be killed.” People from twelve different civil societies gathered at Ranchi’s Albert Ekka Chowk to celebrate the success of the Army’s POK strike.
While Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) initially said that only two Pak army soldiers were killed, there are other reports saying that at least nine Pak army personnel actively supporting the terrorists in their locations with fire were reported killed and nine injured. The terrorists’ fatal casualty count so far is 38 to 45. However, according to an uncorroborated radio intercept of 29 September, 15 Pak army personnel were killed, 09 wounded and 53 terrorists killed, 03 injured.
Such an operation can only succeed like it did, with painstaking preparation involving hard and continuous real-time intelligence and meticulous coordination right till the conclusion – and all with guts and calmness.
Indian Army’s Director General Military Operations .(DGMO), Lt General Ranbir Singh said, “the motive of this operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into our territory…..Indian armed forces are ready for any contingency. As of now we have no plans of further operations….I spoke to the Pak DGMO, shared our concerns and told him that we conducted surgical strikes last night”
The modus of the attack was a combination of a preponderance of accurate firepower with boots on the ground and the fact that all this was achieved with no own casualties is indeed another combination of professionalism and good luck.
Reactions from Pakistan are confusing, to say the least. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemning “unprovoked and naked aggression” by India along the LoC, said Pakistan’s armed forces are fully capable of defending the territorial integrity of the country. Sharif also warned that Pakistan’s intent for a peaceful neighbourhood should not be mistaken as its weakness and that Pakistan can thwart any “evil design” to undermine its sovereignty. While initially Pak army is reported to have denied the Indian Army operation altogether, ISPR is also reported to have said that Indian Army troops entered 3 km and that the exchange of fire which began at 0230 hours, continued till 0800 hours, in which “Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing on the LoC in Bhimber, Hotspring Kel and Lipa sectors”.
26 September news reports citing intelligence sources from Pakistan indicated that 16-17 terror training camps of Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Hizbul Mujahideen were shifted from their current locations after the Uri attack and relocated in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir with the help of Pakistani army and Inter-services Intelligence (ISI). Of these, four were terror camps operating from Mansehra and Muzaffarabad. If so, then all the more credit to Northern Command and its units for the results achieved.
While all day long on 29 September, media was full of repeated reports and discussions, by afternoon more Pakistani terrorists trying to infiltrate in the Mendhar sector were fired at by the Indian Army there and the encounter continued till the evening hours.
As per media reports, according to the two guides, Faisal Hussain Awan and Ahsaan Khursheed, who were apprehended by villages in Uri and handed over to the security forces, the sole identifiable terrorist was Hafiz Ahmed son of Feroz, who is a resident of Dharbang, Muzaffarabad. With three of the four Uri attackers’ faces charred beyond recognition, DNA is the only way to identify them. DNA samples of the slain terrorists had been extracted, and it could help identify them if the National Investigation Agency (NIA) manages to trace their origins and parentage during the investigation. The two guides facilitated the four terrorists in infiltrating the LoC from Peer Chandna Sai, Gyarahbad, in PoK and are currently being interrogated by the NIA.
Although Indian Army’s highly successful surgical strike in POK proves its capability and capacity and the Pakistan government and army are shaken and seem to be in huddles. Pak army’s leave is cancelled. Indian Army has not taken any such action. But India is neither complacent nor taking any chances. Apart from the sharp vigil on the LoC and the International Boundary (IB), villages close to both have been evacuated.
If Pakistan decides to try any larger scale misadventures across the LoC and/or the IB, one has no doubts that the response by Indian forces will at least , if not more, be appropriate.