Uri terror attack: what India may do to retaliate
The early morning strike in Uri is possibly the biggest setback, in terms of casualties, ever faced by the Indian Army in Kashmir in a single offensive.
The atmosphere in the Indian defence establishment right now is that of outrage. A senior official in Ministry of Defence said that Pakistan, by orchestrating an attack on the Indian army in Ur, had "crossed the threshold".
India and Pakistan had come closest to a full-blown war the last time when terrorists had carried out such a big attack on the Indian Army in Kaluchak back in 2002.
Three fidayeen terrorists had opened fire on a Himachal roadways bus before storming an army camp before being gunned down. However most of the casualties were civilian, not military.
That time too the country was governed by BJP led government, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the PM and Jaswant Singh as its defence minister.
Though tensions were eventually diffused, Singh in his book A Call To Honour had noted that the Kaluchak incident was the closest India and Pakistan had come to an open war.
An escalation on the cards?
While talks between senior army officers on both sides of the border is going on, the top brass of the Indian defence establishment is looking at retaliatory options very seriously at the moment.
There are very real historical and political reasons why Uri attack could easily spark a huge escalation on both sides of the border.
Very strong reactions by the PM, who said that the Uri attack would not go 'unpunished' and by the MoS, PMO, Jitendra Singh who said "not responding would be cowardice", are indicators of how seriously the government is looking at retaliatory options.
The options on the cards
According to a source in MoD, there are two immediate options being weighed by senior officers right now.
One would be a tactical retaliation, which would be to identify and attack more vulnerable posts of Pakistan rangers. This would be several times bigger strike compared to the routine skirmishes that are reported on both sides of the border.
The other would be to prepare and launch a deep penetration attack. "While this could cause huge damage to Pakistan, we will also know, at the back of our minds that Pakistan is not Myanmar. It will be a high risk option."
Whatever India finally decides to eventually, the fact is that this government has taken an especially strident stand on cross border and Pak sponsored terrorism. And, with political battles in UP and elsewhere on the cards, BJP government knows its response will have to be very strong.
The Pakistan angle
The Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, in a statement said that the four terrorists who attacked an administrative base in Uri early morning, belonged to the Pakistan based terrorist outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
He added that the militants were carrying "war-like stores" that had Pakistani markings on them.
The DGMO also said that he has spoken to his Pakistani counterpart to express concern over the incident.
"They were foreign terrorists. Initial reports indicate that the slain terrorists belong to Jaish-e-Mohammed tanzeem. Since the terrorists had some items with Pakistani markings, I have spoken to the Pakistan DGMO and conveyed our serious concerns on the same."
The ghastly attack on Indian camp caused all political parties and figures to issue strong statements of condemnation and condolences for soldiers.
The Prime Minister strongly condemned the Uri attack and promised that it will not go 'unpunished'.
'We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. Assure nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.' Modi said on Twitter.
He added, 'We salute all those martyred in Uri. Their service to the nation will always be remembered. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.'
Reaching out to people on Twitter, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, 'Condemn the cowardly terror attack on Army camp at Uri. I salute the brave martyrs for their supreme sacrifice...The supreme sacrifice of 17 brave Soldiers will not go in vain. My salute to them...'
Hansraj Ahir, Minister of State for Home Affairs, said that Pakistan "is irritated at the moment, because they failed in their attempt to execute such an activity here on Eid. We will not tolerate such things and will not do so in the future. We will give an appropriate response."
Minister of State, PMO, Jitendra Singh said that there has been enough condemnation on India's part, not taking action against such provocations is also an act of terror.
"I think that simply saying this as an act of cowardice does not suffice, because not responding would also be cowardice," Jitendra Singh told ANI.
Talking tough on terror BJP leader Ram Madhav said that days of strategic restraint are over and suggested that "for one tooth, the complete jaw" should be the policy after the Uri terror attack.
"The Prime Minister has promised that those behind the Uri terror attack will not go unpunished. That should be the way forward. For one tooth, the complete jaw...The days of so-called strategic restraint are over. If terrorism is the instrument of the weak and coward, restraint in the face of repeated terror attacks betrays inefficiency and incompetence. India should prove otherwise," he said.
'Strongly condemn the militant attack on Army base in Uri. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the bravehearts martyred in the attack,' Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram asked the government to mobilise security forces to prevent infiltration of terrorists from across the border in the wake of terror attack in Uri.
In his statement, Chidambaram said it has become necessary to strengthen the border defence to prevent such terrorist attacks. "The government must mobilise all resources, manpower and material, to strengthen border defence to prevent infiltration of terrorists."
Edited by Aleesha Matharu