Exclusive: Why Modi Govt Won’t Release Videos of Surgical Strikes

Every tiny detail of the video footage of the Indian surgical strikes would be examined microscopically if released.

4 min read
Representational image of indian Army personnel. (Photo: AP)

The Indian Army has handed over the complete video footage of the surgical strikes it carried out in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on the intervening night of 28-29 September to the government.

Now the ball is in Modi government’s court.

But the government is understood to have decided not to release this footage, despite the clamour from Pakistan as well as from the Indian opposition parties.


Operation Carried Out With Great Precision

The video footage is believed to be over 90 minutes long. Each of the seven surgical strikes aimed at terrorists’ launch pads is covered in this footage. The footage of each strike is about 15 minutes long.

The video shows how seven Para commando units of the Indian Army, who belly-crawled to their pre-designated targets (read: terrorists’ launch pad), attacked the targets in a synchronised way.

(Photo: PTI)
(Photo: PTI)

The seven commando units were instructed to attack the targets with incendiary weapons (a tit-for-tat for the 18 September Uri terror attack, wherein the terrorists had used incendiary weapons for the first time) in sync.

It is understood that each of the seven Indian commando units had been told to strike exactly at 3:13 am on the night of 28-29 September.

Government Remains Firm on Not Releasing Footage

This was to ensure that the Indian commandos began their surgical strikes at the same time, irrespective of when each of the seven units reached their target, because in this world of rapid communication, the Indian Army did not want the terrorists to alert others to the attacks.

However, the Modi government is understood to have decided that it will not release any part of the video footage, irrespective of Pakistani propaganda claiming that the surgical strikes never took place.

The Indian government is acutely aware of the pressure from Pakistan (and from the domestic opposition) saying that the so-called surgical strikes never took place and that India was simply passing off routine cross-border firing as cross-border surgical strikes.

An Army helicopter approaches Uri camp that was attacked by terrorists on 18 September 2016. (Photo: IANS)
An Army helicopter approaches Uri camp that was attacked by terrorists on 18 September 2016. (Photo: IANS)

The Government’s reasons for not releasing the footage:

  • Doing so will severely compromise the operational aspects of Indian security forces and would make it difficult to launch more such strikes in future, as the enemy would have decoded each and every aspect of how the Indian forces plan and carry out covert military operations.
  • It would give out exact longitudes and latitudes of the mission targets and would thus, enable the enemy to better prepare in the future.
  • Not a single major country in the world in recent times has shared video footage of its covert military operations. For example, the United States has till date, not shared the footage of how it took out terror fountainhead Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on 2 May 2011. Incidentally, till then Pakistan was in a denial mode and had fiercely denied that bin Laden was on its soil. Therefore, the Pakistani denials in the present context too should be treated similarly.

Osama bin Laden Learnt His Lesson

Moreover, the Indian government is sensitised to a real incident, wherein bin Laden had sent a video message to the world giving his roadmap of threats and impending operations.

Osama bin Laden speaks at a news conference in 1998 file photo. (Photo: Reuters)
Osama bin Laden speaks at a news conference in 1998 file photo. (Photo: Reuters)

In one such incident, bin Laden had used an outdoor location for his video message. The American intelligence had carefully scoured the backdrop in Osama’s video, which was a rock.

The American intelligence apparatus magnified the rock in the bin Laden video and analysed its geographical features and determined by the granular structure of the rock that it was situated in Nooristan, one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan located in the eastern part of the country. Bin Laden quickly realised his mistake and thereafter his video messages were done within four walls.

Opposition May Get Access to Sanitised Version

The moral of the story is simple.

Apart from the geographical features, every tiny detail of the footage of the surgical strikes would be examined microscopically, should the government decide to release the footage.

That's why the Modi government has decided not to release even a second of this footage, come what may.

One possible course of action may be that the Modi government convenes a meeting of top leaders of the opposition parties and shows them a sanitised version of the footage.

(Rajeev Sharma is an independent journalist and strategic affairs analyst who tweets @Kishkindha. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!