In 2013, the Army didn’t deny reports of a raid by its 161 Brigade across the Line of Control in Haji Pir sector in Uri during which a Pakistani soldier Havildar Ghulam Mohiuddin was killed. The raid was carried out after Pakistanis objected to and shelled at the newly constructed bunkers on Indian side which they thought violated the 2005 agreement on maintaining status quo on the LoC.
Brigadier Gulab Singh Rawat, reports then said, had asked the Commanding Officer of the 9th Maratha Light Infantry to attack the Pakistani bunker after they kept firing on Indian positions. The raid which was carried out on January 6 was successful.
Soon after, Pakistan’s DGMO lodged a protest with his Indian counterpart. And this was followed by a Pakistani counter-attack across the LoC on Jan 8 in which two Indian soldiers were killed, one of them Lance Naik Hemraj beheaded which much like today brought the two countries to the brink of a major confrontation.
BJP, then in opposition, had called for the retaliation and its senior leader Sushma Swaraj had called for getting ten Pakistani heads for one.
“If his (Hemraj’s) head could not be brought back (from Pakistan), we should get at least 10 heads from their side,” Swaraj told reporters here after visiting Hemraj’s family along with party president Nitin Gadkari and leader Rajnath Singh.
And then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that there couldn’t be “business as usual” with Pakistan and had called off the engagement with the country.
But after the BJP government’s takeover in 2014, the situation changed. In Kashmir, the LoC exchanges intensified, and the Army was given a full authority to counter the Pakistani firing. In October 2014, in a counter-attack launched by India at Pakistani posts across the border in Jammu, 15 people died and more than 30 were injured.
In 2015, the number of the LoC violations came perceptibly down to 405 as against 562 in 2014 which was the highest in the preceding eleven years.
Though India under Modi has baulked at a hot pursuit across LoC, it has conducted raids across the border in Myanmar. In June 2015, the Army went in a hot pursuit of NSCN(K) militants in Myanmar. Hours after the operation, the then minister of state for defence Rajyavardhan Rathore had said the strike was a “message to Pakistan”.
Now after the recent attack in Uri which killed 18 soldiers, will India try a Myanmar across the LoC? More so, when there has been such a precedent in Brigadier Rawat’s raid in Hajipir. So far despite the public and media pressure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has avoided any knee-jerk reaction. But the public opinion in India, as the fresh attack has indicated, has reached a critical mass. It will need some dramatic conciliatory gesture from Pakistan and a demonstrative will to act against its ‘non-state actors’ to address the collective urge for retribution.