India is celebrating the fourth anniversary of the surgical strikes against terror launchpads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) today. The strikes were carried out nearly 10 days after a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri, in which 19 soldiers were killed when four terrorists launched a barrage of grenades at the Army's 12 Brigade headquarters.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 'Mann Ki Baat' programme reminded the nation about the 2016 surgical strike. "Four years ago, around this time, the world witnessed the courage, bravery and valour of our soldiers during the surgical strike. Our brave soldiers had just one mission and goal--to protect the glory and honour of mother India at any cost. They did not care for their lives, at all. They kept moving on the line of duty and we all witnessed how they returned victoriously. They made mother India proud," PM Modi said.
On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the surgical strike, here is a throwback to the Indian Army's bravery, Pakistan's rejection and international media's reportage:
After the Uri attack on September 18, 2016, PM Modi had promised that the attackers will not go "unpunished" and that they will not be forgiven and the sacrifice of the jawans will not go in vain.
On September 24, The Indian Army’s build-up for the strikes had begun. The ground planning for the operation was carried out by the Army's Northern Command in Udhampur. The decision to carry out the strikes was taken by India's top military brass in New Delhi under the leadership of PM Modi, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Civilians living close to the border in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab were evacuated and on the intervening night of September 28-29, special forces squads set out for the mission armed with night-vision devices, Tavor 21 and AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired missiles, Heckler and Koch pistols, high explosive grenades and plastic explosives.
Seven terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) were destroyed by special forces of the Indian Army in a nearly five-hour-long operation. Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said the operations were basically focused to ensure that the terrorists do not succeed in their design of infiltration and carrying out destruction and endangering the lives of citizens of our country. "During these counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them," he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan denied the 2016 surgical strike as a "figment of Indian imagination", saying there was no such event. "There was no such event. It is a figment of Indian imagination. The Indian media is itself doubting the claims of their government," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said.
"There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon. As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops. The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects (sic)," Pakistan's ISPR had said in a Facebook post.
The international media, however, had a more measured and subdued response. The Washington Post termed the surgical operation as "the most aggressive military action from India toward Pakistan in years and could mark a shift in India's strategy toward its neighbour", while The Diplomat posed questions about whether India has the capability to launch an attack of this nature. “India is still on the cusp of building a sophisticated and modernized asymmetrical capability to conduct counterterror operations, while much of its forces are still organized and trained on Cold War models," it said.
Al Jazeera reported that there was unease and tension among the residents of the area, where Indian Army carried out the operation, while the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Abid Mir, a senior superintendent of police of Rawalakot, a city near the Line of Control, saying India did not conduct a pinpoint operation against militants and instead hit an army post with shelling.
(With input from agencies)