The Inside Story of India's 2016 'Surgical Strikes'

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  1. Disir
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    For Col H and Col K (names withheld), the moment of reckoning arrived on the afternoon of 18 September 2016. Throughout that morning, the Commanding Officers (COs) of two separate Para (Special Forces) battalions were like most of their colleagues posted in Kashmir Valley, following the increasingly grim news coming out of Uri, the garrison town not very far from Srinagar. Well-trained and well-informed terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) and attacked an administrative camp in the 12 Brigade HQ located in Uri with deadly effect. At least 19 soldiers of 6 Bihar battalion, camping in tents — days before they were to take their assigned positions along the LoC — were killed in the early morning attack. Majority of the soldiers died in their sleep, resting as they were in highly inflammable tents. Although all the four terrorists were neutralised eventually, they had set off a chain of events that would culminate on the morning of 29 September.

    In Udhampur, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda was distressed. He had been the GOC-in-C for over two years and witnessed his share of successes and setbacks as the head of India’s most active Army command. Nevertheless, this was possibly the worst moment of his long and distinguished career, spent fighting insurgencies and terrorism in the north-east as well as Jammu & Kashmir. “It was terrible. Very difficult to justify what happened. There were definitely lapses on our part,” Hooda says in retrospect.

    But an Army Commander doesn’t have the luxury of wallowing in his own state of mind. He has to set an example by leading from the front. As he accompanied Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh to Uri, Hooda knew the time had come to implement a plan, the seeds of which had vaguely taken shape in his mind some fifteen months ago. Even Gen Dalbir, aware of how the Prime Minister’s mind worked, was thinking of something different.

    Gen Dalbir was drawing on his experience during the cross-border raid in Myanmar more than a year previously when the PM had quietly authorised the strike against north-east militants holed up in the jungles of Manipur-Myanmar border after killing 18 Indian soldiers. Gen Dalbir had a hunch then that the Prime Minister may demand a Myanmar-like action if push came to shove in J&K. Cut to mid-June in 2015. In June 2015, it was under his watch as Army Chief that the soldiers of a Para SF unit of the Indian Army, based in the north-east, had carried out a precise attack on an NSCN (K) camp located inside Myanmar and eliminated at least 60 insurgents in the process. While the cross-border raid inside Myanmar was making waves and dividing opinion (see separate chapter), discussions in TV studios in India centred around the possibility of similar raids against Pakistan. Minister of State of Information & Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore told TV anchors that the option of cross-border raids against Pakistan are a possibility. He also told Indian Express in June 2015: “This is a message for all countries, including Pakistan, and groups harbouring terror intent towards India. A terrorist is a terrorist and has no other identity. We will strike when we want to.”

    The Inside Story of India's 2016 'Surgical Strikes'

    This actually sounds like a pretty good book.
     

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