STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: In a major counter-offensive after Pakistan’s unprovoked firing, the Indian Army on Sunday carried out heavy artillery strikes targeting four terror launch pads and several Pakistani military positions in Neelam Valley in PoK, killing 6-10 of their soldiers and as many terrorists, according to Army Chief Bipin Rawat. The Indian retaliation came a day after Pakistan military resorted to firing in Tangdhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir along the Line of Control to assist infiltration by terrorists, killing two Indian Army personnel and a civilian. Three others were also injured in the attack. A highly-placed source, meanwhile, said at least 20 terrorists were killed in the Indian artillery fire, adding the figure may be quite high. The retaliation has caused substantial harm to the terrorist infrastructure across the Line of Control (LoC), Rawat told reporters on the sidelines of an event. “So far, as per the information available with us, 6-10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed and nearly as many terrorists,” the Army Chief said, adding that more information on terrorist casualty was being obtained. “Three terror camps have been destroyed and on the fourth one also, we have caused severe damage,” he said. If Pakistan continued with such activities, the Indian Army would not hesitate to retaliate, the Army chief asserted. The sources said the four terror launch pads were in Neelam Valley, opposite the Tangdhar sector, and that 10-15 terrorists were staying in each of the facilities at the time of the attack, the most significant offensive since India carried out the Balakot strike in February. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the Army Chief following the Indian offensive and he has been keeping an eye on the evolving situation along the LoC, government sources said. Spokesperson of Pakistan Military Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a series of tweets, claimed a total of five Pakistani civilians were killed in the Indian strikes. Pakistan also summoned Indian envoy Gaurav Ahluwalia to condemn the firing by Indian troops. A senior Indian Army official rejected Ghafoor’s allegations and claim. In a statement, the Indian Army said Pakistani Army initiated unprovoked cease fire violations to assist infiltration by terrorists into Indian territories in the Tangdhar sector last evening.
“As a result calibrated escalation of area weapons was undertaken by the Indian side in which terrorist launch pads and several Pakistan Army posts giving incidental protection to these launch pads and certain gun positions were hit,” it said.
It said Indian Army retains the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing in case Pakistan Army continues to assist terrorist activities across Indian borders.
Rawat said, “Ever since the abrogation of special provisions (for Jammu and Kashmir), we are getting repeated inputs about infiltration by terrorists from across the border.
Gen. Rawat said terror camps across the border were targeted as the Army had definitive information.
“The festival season is approaching, Diwali is round the corner, we had picked up a definitive signal that some of the terror camps north of Pir Panjal were active. Terrorists had arrived in these camps and that they were likely to infiltrate.
“Before they could attempt the infiltration, it was decided that we target the terror camps. We had definitive information and coordinates of these camps and in the retaliatory action that our forces have taken, we have caused severe damage to the terror infrastructure across (the LoC),” the Army chief said.
The terror camps opposite the Tangdhar sector were destroyed, he added.
On the situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the state, the Army chief said while Indian forces were trying to restore normalcy in the Valley, attempts were being made from elements across the border to disrupt peace.
“Gradually, things are returning to normal in the Valley, but obviously somebody is working behind the scenes, at the behest of terrorists and agencies, some within and some outside Pakistan and PoK, to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere,” he said.
Asked if Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed by him on the Tangdhar incident, the Army chief answered in the affirmative. “He (Singh) has been briefed regularly,” he said.
“The defence minister has regularly been in contact with me on this issue,” Gen. Rawat said.
“As I said earlier, the political leadership and the military are working in close coordination and that is continuing,” he added.
Soon after government announced its decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, the Army was put on high alert along the LoC to effectively repulse any possible Pakistani misadventure.
The sources said the pounding of Pakistani positions and terror camps cannot in any way be compared to surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army in September 2016 on terror launch pads across the Line of Control. However, the offensive was the most significant one after India carried out the Balakot strike in February.
On February 26, India carried out an aerial strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e Mohammad terror group in Pakistan’s Balakot, in response to Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Pakistan Air Force retaliated the next day by trying to target military installations but it was repulsed. The PAF downed a MiG-21 Bison in an aerial combat besides capturing IAF pilot Varthaman, who was handed over to India on March 1. Varthaman had shot down an F-16 of Pakistan before his MiG21 Bison was hit.
We lost another gem: Amitabh Bachchan remembers co-star Jagdeep
Director Bhansali reaches police station to record statement
Ajay Devgn’s “Maidaan” to release in August 2021
Potential COVID-19 vaccine by Zydus Cadila gets DCGI nod for human clinical trials
Sushant suicide: Bhansali’s statement to be recorded on July 6
© 2020 State Times Daily Newspaper