Army Confirms PoK Surgical Ops: 1st Strike Reported by The Quint
Army DGMO confirms The Quint’s story about surgical strikes carried across the LoC in PoK, writes Chandan Nandy.
Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh today confirmed the Army’s policy of surgical strikes across the LoC against terrorists and their camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The DGMO informed media that the Army had carried out surgical strikes across the LoC on the night of 28th-29th September. On 21st September The Quint had reported on the first such operation by the Indian Army’s Special Forces.
The Quint’s story got a lot of reactions, some questioning its veracity. In response, The Quint has reconfirmed the story with multiple well-placed and unimpeachable sources. This is in line with revelations made by the DGMO today, confirming that surgical attacks have taken place. The Quint has corrected a few details and is publishing a revised story.
Details of the Special Operation
Almost a platoon-strength posse of the army’s special forces belonging to the 9th Para – and not the 2nd Para as reported earlier – crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in the late hours of September 20 across Uri and hit at least three terrorists’ camps in Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir (PoK), killing between 10 to 12 militants, The Quint reiterates.
The commandos suffered no loss of men.
Multiple sources across the army and other government agencies have unequivocally confirmed that a small but highly skilled commando force drawn from the elite 9th Para crossed the LoC over foot, marched between 6 and 13 kms before targeting the camps. It is believed that the stealth operation had clearance from the “highest quarters”.
Belated Response by Pakistan
The Quint has cross-checked with its sources that helicopters were not used, as erroneously stated in the 21 September report. The basic thrust of the story, that Indian special forces commandos adopted the element of surprise and crossed the LoC and achieved their mission before returning to Indian territory with the Pakistan army no wiser, remains unchanged.
When the Pakistani army top brass received reports of the stealth operation, it was much too late to mount any counter-attack. Their response was limited to declaring large swathes of the sky over PoK, including Skardu and Gilgit, a no-fly-zone. Within hours, the Pakistan Air Force flew out F-16 sorties to protect their airspace. These were clear indications that a rattled Pakistani security establishment took belated steps to safeguard its territory.
Terror Camps Dismantled Post-Special Ops
Additionally, following the covert operation across the LoC, reports revealed that some of the remaining 16-17 training camps, including four that operated near Mansehra and Muzaffarabad, were quickly dismantled and moved out by the Pakistani army to heavily populated areas, especially close to Muzaffarabad and other mid-size towns in PoK.
Asked about the special forces operation across the LoC, an army spokesman in Delhi, however, told The Quint: “We have no such inputs.”
9th Para Unit was ‘Fully Prepared’
While The Quint’s sources, for operational reasons, refused to disclose the names of the places in PoK where the camps were hit, it is believed that two particular camps outside of Kotla village under Bagh district of PoK came under heavy fire from the 9th Para commandos. Kotla, about 20 kms from Bagh town, has a thick pine forest cover and is located near two small streams.
Even as sources were loath to identify the camps, unconfirmed reports suggested that at least one terrorist camp at Nakyal tehsil in Kotli district of PoK. Nakyal is opposite India’s Mendhar sector.
Unimpeachable military sources said that the commandos were flown in by helicopter from Udhampur, where the army’s Northern Command is headquartered, to Uri several hours before the operation was launched. Military sources said that the compact and self-contained 9th Paras unit was in a state of “full preparedness” by the time the team was selected and flown to Uri.
Commandos Equipped with Precise Location Details
Army sources said that usually the highly-trained Para commandos take between an hour-and-a-half to two hours to cover a distance of 6-7 kms of difficult terrain. Sources familiar with previous operations of the special forces claimed that stealth/covert operations of the nature executed across the LoC usually take between 30-40 minutes to accomplish their mission and leave the target areas.
When the 9th Para commandos gathered for the pre-operation briefing, they were already in possession of the necessary intelligence – precise location of the camps, the approximate number of terrorists in each of the target camps and the types of weapons in their possession.
Strong Message to Pakistan
Military sources were unanimous that while Indian special forces have undertaken stealth operations across the LoC in the past, the September 20 hit has by far been the biggest in terms of the terrorists killed and the diplomatic objectives. In the past, special forces commandos would often take out terrorists across the LoC with commander-level clearance.
Part of the reason for the latest “lethal” and “expanded” operation was to send across to the Pakistani security and political establishments a “message that the Indian army will not shirk away from retaliating each time terrorists strike in Jammu and Kashmir.”
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