Let Uri- Muzaffarabad road spirit prevail
September 18, 2018 will mark the second anniversary of Uri attack, one of the deadliest assault on an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir. The death toll had risen to 21 soldiers dead and several others wounded. It had caused a nationwide outrage that made the Government to order what it called surgical strikes across the Line of Control to avenge the killing of soldiers in the attack.
The Uri attack and its aftermath needs to be looked at afresh. The study should focus on the issues far beyond the clichés of lessons learnt or unlearnt. There are many questions that continue to hit the mind, whether it is possible to stop all these “fidayeen” attacks altogether or there is no armour against such horrific assaults that shake the confidence of the nation in its own capability. These questions persist because it was neither the first nor the last time when the militants could penetrate the security grid and do what they wanted to do.
It would be important to recall the circumstances in which this attack took place two years ago. Kashmir was in flames. Streets had erupted. The recurrent clashes between stone throwing youth and the pellet firing forces had changed the scenario of Kashmir once and for all. A rare combination of the armed militancy and street protests marked the beginning of a new phase of the troubles in Kashmir. The nursery rhymes were replaced with the likes of “ hum kaya chahte, azadi”. This type of home schooling and the street protests had thrown off ground the formal education. An aggressive mood swept the Valley.
The attack made it to the headlines of newspapers and the Indian TV anchors were calling for an action against the enemy. The nationalist blood was on boil. It would not subside unless there was some action, and the definition of action meant strike in Pakistan or Pakistan Administered Kashmir. This idea was reinforced by the then Director General of Military Operations (currently Northern Command chief) Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh in the words, “we have the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence in the adversary in the manner as deemed appropriate by us. We reserve the right to respond to these acts of adversary at the time and place of our choosing.”
Such a response televised to the nation by all channels was deemed as a necessity in 2016. The NDA government did not want to be seen in the same ugly spotlight as its predecessor UPA government in 2008. The UPA government had flinched under the international pressure and did not act against the militants or the masterminds who plotted the 26/11 atrocity. The NDA government claimed that it had conducted the surgical strikes across the LoC on the night of September 28 and 29, an act that the Government claimed was unprecedented. Delhi believed that it had delivered a necessary and striking lesson to Pakistan and the state or non-state actors on its soil or those working at its behest would not attempt a repeat of the Uri type attack. Pakistan, as expected, had rejected the Indian claim. It had taken the foreign media to the selected places along the Line of Control and shown that how the things were calm there, and no one had disturbed that calm.