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How surgical strike in Uri helped India shed the soft-nation tag

Nearly two years after the September 2016 surgical strikes in Uri, India conducted an aerial strike at a terror training centre in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This was to avenge Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 40 soldiers.

September 28, 2020 / 12:48 PM IST

September 28 marks the fourth anniversary of the surgical strikes against the terror groups in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) carried out by India in response to the deadly attack on an army camp on Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the country about the strikes during his monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat on September 27.

“Four years ago, around this time, the world witnessed the courage, bravery of our soldiers during the Surgical Strike,” Modi said.

“Our brave soldiers had just one mission and one goal – to protect at all costs, the glory and honour of Mother India. They did not care a bit for their own selves. They marched forward on their path of duty and we all witnessed how they came out victorious. They enhanced Mother India’s pride,” the Prime Minister said.

On the intervening night of September 27-28, 2016, Indian Army’s special forces crossed the Line of Control and destroyed the terror pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The action was in response to the suicide attack carried out on an army base in Uri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on September 18 that had killed 19 soldiers.

The then Director General of Military Operations had Lt General Ranbir Singh had said that India conducted the surgical strikes on terror pads along the LoC using ground force and inflicted significant casualties.

But what changed since 2016?  According to Lt General (Retd) DS Hooda, who was the Northern Army Commander at that time, surgical strikes conducted under his watch, set a new Indian paradigm that helped India “shed the soft-nation tag.”

“Several strong steps have been taken in the political, diplomatic and economic fields for the good of the country,” Lt General (retd) said in an article written in Sunday Guardian.

“To list a current relevant combination, the political actions of banning Chinese apps, economic steps of curbs on FDI and participation in tenders for business, and diplomatic confabulations with other countries to isolate China on the Ladakh border standoff, inter alia, are a good example of synergizing instruments of power towards a national endeavor. This all began with the surgical strike four years ago,” he wrote.

In the wake of India-China standoff at Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, India has banned over a hundred Chinese apps including a popular video game PUBG and social media platform TikTok in a way to strike back against China, though the government did not announce the link officially.

In February last year, nearly two years after the September 2016 surgical strikes, India conducted an aerial strike at a terror training centre in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This was to avenge Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 40 soldiers.

Pakistan had rejected India's claim that it had conducted the surgical strikes. "The Pakistani Army gave befitting response to the Indian army. Indian Army opened up small arms fire last night on five sectors across LoC. India is doing this under a well-planned objective. If India tries to do this again, we will respond forcefully. India is doing this only to please their media and public,” Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said in a statement on September 30, 2016.

But India said that by conducting such operations along LoC, it has succeeded in showing the world about the need to uproot the menace of terrorism.

“When India talked of terrorism 20 years back, many in the world said it was a law and order problem and didn’t understand it. Now terrorists have explained terrorism to them so we don’t have to,” PM Modi said at a community reception at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia, USA in June 2017.​

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first published: Sep 28, 2020 12:48 pm