Will the Uri attack mean déjà vu again?
On 18 September 2016, pre-dawn, four Pakistani terrorists, or very possibly Pak army specialist soldiers disguised as terrorists, succeeded in entering an Indian Army unit area and killed 17 soldiers before they themselves got killed, proceeding to their promised Jannat (heaven), or jahannum (hell).
A news report of the same day quoted a BJP spokesperson as having stated, “It is painful, now it is clear from military’s observation that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan. On the diplomatic level we have left the defensive policy and have adopted assertive policy. On the issue of terrorism, no country is standing today with Pakistan, even their trusted allies US is snubbing them. We have raised the issue of Balochistan, so from internal to international angle we have diplomatically cornered Pakistan. The Indian government is taking due consideration of all the aspects and will give a befitting reply to them.”
What is the “befitting reply” to such an attack ? In many cases when Pakistan Rangers guarding their side of the International Boundary (IB, which Pakistan refers to as ‘working boundary’), open indiscriminate unprovoked fire, our Border Security Force can respond with equal or greater volume of fire. But what is frustrating is that no attack on Army units within our country by Pakistani terrorists or its army specialists disguised as terrorists has ever been responded to or retaliated suitably/appropriately. Why? Because the Indian politico-bureaucratic establishment even under the present government has proved to be, so far, only as ineffective as its predecessor.
This is not the first such attack this year. Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said that there is an increase in infiltration bids by terrorists from across Indo-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir during this year with 90 infiltration attempts till June 30 in comparison to 29 attempts in the corresponding period in 2015.
In September, security forces and police engaged in a three-day long operation to neutralize four terrorists who had been entrenched in the Mini Secretariat building opposite the office of the district Superintendent of Police. The GoC, 16 Corps , Lt General R R Nimborkar said the terrorists, who belong to the suicide squad of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, ‘had come to do something spectacular so as to gain attention’. According to reports, two groups of heavily armed militants had attacked Poonch town. A police constable, two Army men, two police personnel, and a civilian were killed by the slain terrorists. The encounter between security forces and the terrorists had been the longest one since the Pathankot Air Base attack.
Terrorists attacked a CRPF camp in Pulwama district on September 9 but after facing retaliation from the security personnel, they fled. According to reports, there had been no casualty or damage. It was a second attack on the district in four days. In August, a policeman was shot dead outside his home in Pulwama. Reports said the militants attacked him while he was leaving for his duty. Prior to this incident, 18 police and paramilitary personnel were injured when militants hurled a grenade towards security forces near the Government Degree College Pulwama. Incidentally, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had arrived in Kashmir on the same day to find a solution to the ongoing unrest in the Valley that had sparked off after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death.
Terrorist attacks by Pakistani terrorists/Pakistan Army personnel disguised as terrorists have been launched on army units for a decade and a half. Remember the dastardly attack on Army family quarters in Kalu Chak on 14 May 2002 before school-going time in the morning, killing 30 and injuring 48, soldiers, family members including women, children and some civilians. Army units in that area did not wait for New Delhi to react which it did not and began targeting whatever Pakistani army/rangers were in front of them across the International Boundary. The then US Ambassador raised an alarm about confrontation between “nuclear-armed neighbours”, sent out advisories and media photographed American Embassy diplomats’ families, who were actually leaving for their children’s school summer holidays.
Two months later when these families returned, it was conveniently announced that the Indo-Pak border tension was over. However, following so many other attacks on Indian Army units in J&K, or for that matter the terrorist attack on Mumbai, no retaliatory action was taken except for much rhetoric and presentation of evidence to a recalcitrant Pakistan . It should be very clear to New Delhi that no amount of evidence presentation to Pakistan is going to evince any positive action from its government/military. The only language that both Pak army and terrorist leaders understand is that of effective action which has never so far been taken. Operation Parakram, when launched in 2001-02 was only an expensive war-less mobilization in which almost 798 Indian army personnel died without fighting the enemy.
Amidst the irritating cacophony of politician- spokespersons, armed forces veterans,including those of Pakistan with all their lies and nonsense, “academics” and senior media anchors and commentators on tv news channels and talk about “calibrated response”, is déjà vu.
It should be recalled that in 1967, when the Chinese upped the ante in Nathu La, Sikkim, with not only small arms but artillery also, then Indian brigade commander Brig MMS Bakshi, MVC requested for clearance from the government for a response with artillery, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accorded the same without any delay. The unreported retaliation resulted in about 400 Chinese soldiers killed, a convoy of vehicles and many bunkers destroyed, has kept the Chinese Army’s fingers off the trigger till date.
Let us mull over that till the government does something to account for a whole jaw for a tooth, or does not.