India Surgical Strike Across Line of Control

The country has been seething in rage since the Uri attack. In the early hours of 18 September 2016, 4 heavily armed fidayeen terrorists from the Pakistan occupied parts of Kashmir launched a deadly attack on the Army brigade located in Uri (Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir) leaving 18 Indian soldiers dead and others critically injured.

Surgical Strikes Across the LoC

Last night, the Indian Army carried out retaliatory surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on terrorist bases in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, said the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO). DGMO Lt General Ranbir Singh said that the strikes were carried out by the army based on “very specific and credible information…that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along the LoC with an aim to carry out infiltration and terrorist strikes” in India. He confirmed that the terrorists present at these launch pads or bases were waiting for an opportunity to cross the LoC and wreck major centres in Jammu and Kashmir apart from carrying out terror attacks on other Indian metros. He added that “significant casualties” were caused to the terrorists. The Indian Army, on the other hand, remains unscathed according to news reports.

The Operation

In an operation that lasted between 12.30 am and 4.30 am, Indian Army Special Forces were air dropped by Mi-17 helicopters at the LoC. From there they crossed over to the Pakistani side and struct 7 terror bases between 500 metres and 2 kilometres from the LoC. These terror bases (located in Bhimber, Kel, Hotspring, and Lipa sectors) were completely destroyed. Though the Army did not confirm any numbers, news reports suggest that 38 terrorists and 2 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the operation. The entire operation is reported to have been monitored by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag apart from other senior Army officials.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have briefed President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, and former PM Manmohan Singh about the operation. CMs of various states and the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir were also informed. Following the DGMO press conference, PM Modi also chaired a Cabinet level meeting which was attended by Defence Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar, Minister of External Affairs Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, and Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley. General Suhag was also present.

Was Uri Attack the Trigger?

The attack on the Indian Army in Uri was undoubtedly a trigger but was not the only reason India decided to carry out such strikes on terror bases in PoK. Cross border firing by Pakistan is not a new development. In the past few weeks, the Indian army has foiled as many as 20 infiltration bids from across the LoC. Lt Gen Singh confirmed that GPS systems with Pakistani markings and other recoveries made from those who were contained prompted the strike. He said, “Despite our persistent urging that Pakistan respect its commitment made in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, there have been no let up in infiltrations or terrorist actions inside our territory.” He also said that the terrorists captured in the strikes have confessed to have been trained and armed in PoK.

Is India at War?

India is not at war with Pakistan. The Army confirms that the strike operations have ended there are no plans of conducting any more strikes. Lt Gen Singh, said that in keeping with international protocol, Pakistan had been informed of the cross-border strike. Pakistan, however, denies that these strikes were carried out and claims that any such operation would elicit a strong response from the country’s armed forces.

The surgical strikes carried out in PoK on Wednesday night are reminiscent of the surgical strike carried out by 70 commandos of the Indian Army in Myanmar. The team crossed the Indo Myanmar border and carried out a 40 minute strike which left 38 Naga insurgents dead. This was in retaliation to the attack on the 6 Dogra Regiment (which left 18 soldiers dead) by the Naga insurgents. The Myanmar government had claimed that the operation was a coordinated attack by the two countries.

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