It took the Indian Army 10 days to avenge the terror attack on its Uri camp but it had got the green signal from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to carry out surgical strikes within a day.
Modi, who reacted to the killing of 18 jawans by vowing not to let the provocation go “unpunished”, had, at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on September 19, authorised the Army to exercise whatever military option was considered most effective. While the government followed the routine of summoning Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit and worked energetically to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, Modi refused, contrary to the perception in many quarters, to take military options off the table.
The 10-day lag was because the Army needed time to prepare itself to launch its first formally-declared operation across the LoC since 1971, sources said. Army commanders decided to wait till the waning of the moon to carry out the night strike. The Army crossed the LoC two days before Amavasya or the new moon, said a highly-placed source who denied that the ongoing UNGA session was one of the reasons why the Army had delayed its response.
The fateful CCS meeting saw the PM insist that all steps needed to give an “effective response” be examined. He asked national security adviser A K Doval and Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag to examine every feasible military responses, junking the posture of ‘strategic restraint’ followed under the UPA which forbade the Army from striking at terror camps across the border for fear of escalation and, eventually, full-scale confrontation between two nuclear-armed countries.
Focused on retaliation against what he called an “act of aggression” by Pakistan, a source close to the operation said while Modi was not spoiling for a war, the prospect of full-scale hostilities was not a deterrent for him either.
The PM did not comment on Thursday but people in the loop said he was extremely pleased by the success of the operation, especially because all the jawans had returned safely. “This is a big achievement as their safety was a big worry for the government.Nine of them suffered injuries but that is unavoidable when you engage in something as audacious and risky as venturing 6.5 km into the terrain of your sworn enemy ,” a senior government official said.
“It is extremely gratifying that none of them is seriously injured,” he added, emphasising that the top directive to the units concerned was to return safely and without leaving anyone behind.