New Delhi: In the first such action, India carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launchpads across the LoC last night with the Army saying its special forces inflicted "significant casualties" on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Defence sources said seven terror launchpads across the Line of Control (LoC) were destroyed by special commandos of the Indian Army on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 in a nearly five-hour operation during which heliborne and ground forces were deployed.
Sources said the launchpads in PoK were in the range of 2 to 3 kilometres from the LoC and were under surveillance for over a week while Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the strikes targeted 5 to 6 places across the LoC along Kupwara and Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir. Naidu said there was no casualty on the Indian side.
“Pakistan is guilty of increasing infiltration by terrorists along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and even the recently captured terrorists have confessed to their training and arming in Pakistan. The Global positioning systems (GPS) recovered from them established their Pakistani connect,” said Lt General Ranbir Singh, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), at a hurriedly called news conference on Thursday during which External affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup was also present.
These surgical strikes are the first major military action taken by India against Pakistan after the Uri attack in which 18 soldiers were killed as terrorists from Pakistan crossed into an Army camp earlier this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pledged that the attack would not go unpunished.
General Singh said India shared with Pakistan details of the surgical strikes which followed "very specific information" that terrorists were positioning themselves in launchpads along the LoC. Pakistani troops had yesterday targetted Indian positions with small firearms along the Line of Control in Poonch district.
Prime Minister Modi had informed President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh about the strikes. Jammu and Kashmir Governor Narinder Nath Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were also told.
The strikes -- coordinated by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval along with the Army chief -- were carried out in Bhimber, Hot Spring, Kel and Lipa sectors.
According to reports, special commandos of the Indian Army went 3 kilometres inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and demolished seven terror camps.
General Singh said the operation to neutralise terrorists had since ceased and India didn't have any plans for any further operation, but added the armed forces would not allow terrorists to carry out any attacks in J&K or any major Indian cities.
General Singh said the strikes were launched after getting "very specific and credible" intelligence input that the infiltrators were being pushed to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and in some major Indian cities.
"The operations were basically focused to ensure these terrorists do not succeed to infiltrate India and carry out destruction, endangering the lives of citizens of our country," the DGMO asserted. "During these counter terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who were trying to support them.”
"The operations aimed at neutralising the terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for continuation of further operations. However the Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise," he said.
The DGMO said there has been continuing and increasing infiltration across the Line of Control and the same is reflected in attacks in Poonch and Uri. “Infiltration of terrorists across Line of Control has been a matter of serious concern. Almost 20 infiltration attempts have been foiled by Army successfully this year,” said Singh.
He said some terrorists caught were residents of Pakistan. He said they were trained in Pakistan. "Despite our persistent requests 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 infiltration or terrorist action inside our territory," he said.
Singh further said, "If the damage has been limited, it has been primarily due to the efforts of soldiers of the Indian Army who are deployed in a multi-tier counter infiltration grid and most of the infiltration bids have been foiled at those locations. The Indian armed forces have been extremely vigilant in the face of continuing threat."
He further said India’s intention is to maintain peace and tranquility in the region but it certainly can’t allow terrorists to operate along the LoC. "We expect the Pakistan army to cooperate with us to erase the menace of terrorism," Singh added.
The announcement of the strikes was made soon after PM Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which was attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag and DGMO Singh.
A surgical strike is a swift attack undertaken by military on specific targets with the aim to neutralise them while ensuring minimum collateral damage to the surrounding areas and civilians, and a subsequent return to primary positions. It also prevents escalation to a full-blown war.
These attacks can be carried out via air raids, airdropping special operation teams or a ground operation. All three Indian armed forces have their separate special ops teams. It requires detailed and extensive planning to carry out surgical strikes and achieve the objective. External intelligence is vital to carry out these strikes.
eanwhile, Pakistan rejected India’s claim of ‘surgical strikes’ across LoC, saying ‘India fired at us from their side’.
Strongly condemning "unprovoked and naked aggression" by India along the LoC, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan's armed forces are fully capable of defending the territorial integrity of the country.
Sharif also warned that Pakistan's intent for peaceful neighbourhood should not be mistaken as its weakness, Radio Pakistan reported. He said Pakistan can thwart any "evil design" to undermine its sovereignty.
The Pakistan military said two of its soldiers were killed in ceasefire violation by India along the LoC today. Sharif paid rich tributes to jawans who have been killed in the firing.
“The Indian claim that terrorist launching pad in Pakistan were targetted is a lie,” the Pakistan army said.
Amid heightened tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours, cross LoC trade took place at Uri. 26 trucks from India crossed over, while 10 from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir came in.