India weighs options after Kashmir attack on soldiers

Modi meets top advisers to thrash out response

  • Army jawans carrying the coffins of theircolleagues.Image Credit: PTI
  • Indian students and teachers pay tribute to soldiers killed in Kashmir.Image Credit: AP
Gulf News

New Delhi: A day after the deadly terror attack on an army base in Kashmir, which left 18 Indian soldiers dead, India on Monday decided to plan a calibrated, multi-layered and strategic response to deal with Pakistan, aiming to diplomatically isolate the country at every international forum.

“Pakistan must be diplomatically isolated at every international forum or group, it was decided today. India would present all actionable evidence if required at these forums,” top-level sources in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told Gulf News after the crucial meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his senior cabinet ministers, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Modi assured the country that “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished” while Home Minister Singh called Pakistan “a terrorist state which should be identified and isolated”.

“We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this attack will be soon punished for their act. We salute all those martyred in Uri. Their service to the nation will always be remembered. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. Defence Minister will go to Jammu and Kashmir himself to take stock of the situation,” Modi said in a statement.

Army officials said some of the critically wounded had been flown to a hospital in New Delhi and one had died while undergoing treatment. Most of dead and wounded suffered severe burns after their tents and temporary shelters caught fire from incendiary ammunition while they were sleeping.

Indian troops searched three ravines that cut across the border in mountainous terrain near Uri, which a senior army official said they believe the militants used to sneak across.

Reinforcements were also sent to patrol one of the world’s most heavily militarised frontiers, where Indian and Pakistani forces in places stand eyeball to eyeball and sometimes exchange fire, the army official said.

A weekly bus service between Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir and Muzaffarabad, the capital on the Pakistani side, operated as normal on Monday however. The bus passed through Uri and passengers waited at the de facto border ready to cross.

The home minister said there was definite evidence of Pakistan’s involvement in Sunday’s terror attack.

“Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such. There are definite and conclusive indications that the perpetrators of Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped. I am indeed deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups,” the home minister said.

Singh has postponed his scheduled visit to Russia and the United States in the wake of the attack in Kashmir.

Four terrorists from Pakistan sneaked into the Uri army base early on Sunday morning and killed 18 soldiers before being shot dead in an intense three-hour gun battle.

Officials say preliminary investigation into the attack points firmly to Pakistani links. Apart from weapons and food with Pakistani markings seized from the terrorists, GPS trackers that they carried showed they had started from Pakistan.

Director General of Military operation Lieutenant Ranbir Singh said on Monday that the four terrorists, who attacked the military base in Uri, belonged to Pakistan’s banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). During his briefing to media, Singh said four AK 47 rifles, four Under Barrel Grenade Launchers were among the arms and ammunition recovered from the militants.

President Pranab Mukherjee has condemned the “outrageous terrorist attack” and said “India will not be cowed down by such attacks, we will thwart the evil designs of terrorists and their backers”.

“We cannot take action on an emotional level. We won’t act hasty but we will plan a proper course of action,” said Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh.

India is likely to raise the Uri attack at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which is in session in New York. The government will raise the Pakistan terror issues on September 26 in New York.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address UNGA and is expected to make a strong speech on how Pakistan is using terrorists to destabilise India’s peace and development.

A National Investigation Agency team has already reached Uri army base to investigate the attack. The army is also investigating how the terrorists breached a three-layered counter infiltration arrangement to cross the border and then the security at the Uri base.

— with inputs from agencies