Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday referred to the 2016 surgical strikes conducted across the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and said the era of talks is over and that of “a fitting response” has started.
India carried out the strikes in September 2016 by sending special forces to pre-empt more attacks from across the LoC days after 19 soldiers were killed after infiltrators crossed over from the Pakistani territory and attacked an Indian Army camp in Kashmir.
Shah’s reference to the strikes came days after five soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with heavily armed terrorists in a forested area at Surankote in J&K’s Poonch district on Monday amid a spike in violence in the region. The casualties came after a series of targeted attacks left seven civilians dead in the Valley this month.
Shah cited the strikes and said for years, attackers from across the border would come and cause carnage. “But from the leadership in the Delhi durbars, there was no decision forthcoming,” said Shah after laying the foundation stone for the National Forensic Sciences University’s Goa campus. He added the surgical strikes were conducted under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and during Manohar Parrikar’s tenure as defence minister for the first time when there was an attack and Indian soldiers were killed along the border. “…For the first time, we told the world that it was not without consequence that you can attack India’s borders.”
He said the message that India retaliates when attacked from across the border will stick around for generations, restoring India’s pride in the sanctity of its frontiers. “A new era was established in which no sooner they asked us questions from across the border, we gave them a fitting response.”
Shah also credited Parrikar, who passed away in 2019 and also served as the Goa chief minister, for finalising the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme under which the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service get the uniform pension, regardless of their date of retirement. He added it brought much relief to the soldiers guarding the borders. Shah said the soldiers could rest easy that their families will be well-taken care of after the finalisation of the scheme. He said Parrikar will always be remembered for OROP as well as the surgical strikes.
“The former defence minister will be remembered for two things. Under the leadership of Modi, he did something that no one could do prior to him. (He) gave the OROP to the three services. Today, the jawans, who spend the best years of their lives under conditions ranging from -43 degrees Celsius to 43-degree census, are now confident that their families will be taken care of,” said Shah, who is on a two-day visit to poll-bound Goa.
Shah is also scheduled to interact with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s state leadership ahead of the elections that are due early next year.