In its first direct military response to the massacre of soldiers at the Uri base in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army today said it conducted surgical strikes last night on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) to eliminate terrorists who were prepared to infiltrate into the Indian side of the border.
Director General Military Operations, Lt General Ranbir Singh, told reporters that the strikes were based on "very specific and credible information" and added that they had caused heavy damage to the terrorists.
"We can't allow terrorists to operate across the LoC, there has been a surge in infiltration," he said. Indian armed forces, he said, are ready for any contingency.
Four terrorists had killed 18 soldiers in a pre-dawn attack in Uri earlier this month, leading to the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, a review of the Indus Water Treaty signed between the two nuclear-armed nations and New Delhi's pulling out of the SAARC Summit to be hosted by Islamabad in November.
"Based on very credible and specific information which we received yesterday that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along the Line of Control with an aim to carry out infiltration and terrorist strikes in Jammu & Kashmir and in various other metros in our country, the Indian army conducted surgical strikes last night at these launch pads," Gen Singh told a news conference during which External affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup was also present.
Pakistan, however,dismissed as "fabrication of truth" India's claim that it has conducted a military operation across the LoC to target terrorist launching pads, terming it as a "quest" by India to create media hype by rebranding cross-border fire as surgical strike.
"There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon," Pakistan army said in a statement in Islamabad.
The announcement of the strikes by the Indian army was made soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS). Modi informed President Pranab Mukherjee, J and K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and former Premier Mahmohan Singh among others on the surgical strikes.
ANI reported that villages in Punjab which are 10 km from the International Border with Pakistan are being evacuated and additional BSF troops are moving in.
Details of duration of the surgical strikes or when exactly it was conducted or the places targeted were not immediately given. Sources said that at least two terror camps were struck during the surgical strikes.
Sharing details, Gen Singh said the operations were basically focused to ensure that the terrorists do not succeed in their design of infiltration and carrying out destruction and endangering the lives of citizens of our country.
"During these counter terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them. The operations aimed at neutralizing the terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for continuation of further operations. However the Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise," he said.
The DGMO said he had spoken to the Pakistani Director General of Military Operations and explained India's concerns and also shared with him details of the operation.
"It is India's intention to maintain peace and tranquility in the region, but we can certainly not allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack the citizens of our country.
The operation began at around mid-night last night and ended at around 4:30 AM this morning.
The terror launch pads targeted were in the range of 2 to 3km from the Line of Control (LoC) and were under surveillance for over one week.
They said the operation was a combination of heliborne and ground forces.
(With PTI inputs)