NEW DELHI: In perhaps his first detailed remarks on the surgical strike across the Line of Control in Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had personally monitored the operation throughout the night of September 28, 2016.
The strikes were in retaliation to the terrorist attack on an Army camp in Kashmir’s Uri some 10 days earlier, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, many of them burnt alive while sleeping, which had enraged him and the Indian Army.
Before the soldiers left, “I told them to come back before sunrise, irrespective of the success or failure of the mission,” he said. “I knew it was a big risk. I never care about any political risk to me. The biggest consideration for me was the safety of the soldiers who were willing to sacrifice their lives on our word.”
When the flow of information from the ground stopped for an hour, “My anxiety increased. That time was extremely difficult for me... Then came word that two-three units has reached the safe zone, so don’t worry. But I said I won’t breathe easy till the last man returns,” he said.
Lamenting the politicization of the operation, he said while “it was necessary for Pakistan to deny the strikes to keep their morale intact, but Pakistan’s line was being repeated here too. Politicisation started from that point.” Asked about the impact of the strikes, Modi said, “it would be improper to discuss the matter in the public domain.”
A Pakistani source, however, dismissed the “strike story” as “a total, fabricated farce,” aimed at generating domestic political mileage for Modi and the BJP. “Do you seriously believe that a military team could cross the most heavily mined and militarized line of control at night, take out over 30 or 40 highly-trained and motivated freedom fighters in a hostile environment, and return without a scratch?” he asked.