New Delhi: The Centre is apprehensive that Pakistan is preparing its terrorist groups to exact revenge on India for the 29 September pre-dawn surgical strikes the Indian Army carried out across the Line of Control on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. So, the Union Home Ministry has asked all the States, particularly those along the border with Pakistan — Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat — to stay on high operational alert.
At the same time, to save people from Pakistani shelling, villages situated at a distance of up to 10 km from the international border and LoC have been evacuated; 4,00,000 people have been moved in Punjab alone. The State governments have put in place makeshift shelters for these villagers.
The Union government has credible, albeit non-actionable, reports from intelligence agencies about heightened activity especially in the ranks of the Lashkar-e-Toiba that suffered the maximum loss of men in India’s military action. In fact, the head of LeT’s front Jamaat ud Dawa, Hafiz Saeed has been on record saying his militants would certainly retaliate against India’s surgical strike. “We will tell you what is a real surgical strike… and you will get the deserved response soon,” Saeed said in a public address in Faisalabad. India has held since the 26 November 2008 attack on Mumbai by 10 Pakistani terrorists that Saeed is the mastermind of that carnage of innocent civilians and policemen on duty.
The intelligence agencies have told the government that terrorist attacks are expected as much from the infiltrators who have already managed to cross over into the Indian territory as it is from those who are still trying to sneak in.
The probability of terrorist strikes is higher also because Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif, who was held in high esteem by the people of that country until India’s surgical strikes, is about to retire in less than two months. He would certainly try a face-saver before retirement by unleashing the ISI-controlled LeT on India. The Pakistani general warned on Friday that any “misadventure” by India will be met with the “most befitting response”.
Pakistan’s military spy agency ISI has issued a statement, too, saying and Gen Sharif had asked all commanders to be combat-ready.
The political establishment, which is practically the third in the order of Pakistani command after its Army and the Islamic clergy, has to play along as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is being accused of inaction by Tehreek-e-Insaf party head and former cricketer Imran Khan. After attending a meetiung of his Cabinet, the Pakistani prime minister said that Islamabad wanted peace in the region but “we will not allow anyone to cast an evil eye on Pakistan”.
In an incident that is enough to make the Pakistan’s much touted mujahideen (so-called holy warriors) come across as wimps, 300 terrorists from Jaish-e-Mohammed, LeT and Hizb ul Mujahideen have reportedly fled from PoK following Indian Army’s surgical strikes.
In the international arena, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have pulled out of the SAARC summit following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to attend the meeting, even China has reportedly refused to back Pakistan in the case of an India-Pakistan war. None of the Islamic nations, in the meantime, has offered support to Pakistan or criticised India’s surgical strikes across the LoC.
Pakistan is all the more troubled because of India’s act of shedding its inhibition to interfere in the domestic affairs of that country and talk openly about the plight of the people of Balochistan under Islamanad’s oppressive regime. While the Home Ministry is mulling over offering political asylum to Baloch rebel (or freedom fighter) Brahamdagh Khan Bugti who is right now in exile in Switzerland, several Indian nationalists are overtly demonstrating in support of Baloch freedom.
An anti-Pakistan rally of Baloch people, supported by scores of Indians, marched from Teen Murti Bhavan to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on 29 September. Though most activists were stopped on their way, some were allowed to proceed and hand over their message of protest to the high commission.
And today, the RSS is organising its first seminar to condemn Pakistan’s human rights violations in Balochistan.
At this moment of the nadir of Pakistani prestige, India is bracing for any kind of desperate attack from its traditional enemy.
In response, the places in India sought to be marked by constant vigil on terrorists’ movements are strategic installations besides markets, industrial units, places of worship and transport stations (railway platforms, bus stands, airports, etc). There is a higher chance, sources in the intelligence agencies say, that the terrorists will target one or more of India’s metropolitan cities, capital Delhi being the most likely of their targets. The Centre’s advisory asks the States to deploy additional forces in all sensitive areas.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the country’s defence preparedness in border areas yesterday by holding a meeting with the chiefs of central police organisations including National Security Guard, National Disaster Response Force and Central Industrial Security Force. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi attended the meeting.
The home minister told the media persons that India was trying to secure the release of the 37 Rashtriya Rifles soldier who had crossed over to the Pakistani side during a routine patrol exercise and not during the surgical strikes that Pakistan claims never took place.
Following the home minister’s review, Indian Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag is meeting with Northern Command’s Lt Gen DS Hooda in Kashmir and Western Command’s Lt Gen Surinder Singh in Chandigarh to review the security situation along the LoC, international border and inside Punjab.
The Indian Army has transferred the Uri brigade commander who was posted at the camps when four terrorists from Pakistan lobbed grenades on Indian soldiers, some of whom were still asleep early on 18 September and the rest were busy in the handling of charge from 6 Bihar regiment to 10 Dogra regiment. The attack claimed the lives of 17 Indian soldiers instantly, most of them due to burn injuries; 2 succumbed to their injuries later. In the gunbattle that followed, all the terrorists were killed.
The number of terrorists killed in the Indian counterattack through the 29 September surgical strikes was initially estimated to be 38. Subsequent assessments have raised the Pakistani casualty to almost double that number.