As clamour for strong action against Pakistan over the Uri terror attack grew, the Army on Monday said it reserves the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing even as various options were discussed in a flurry of high-level meetings.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Pranab Mukherjee to brief him on the developments related to yesterday’s cross-border terror attack, hours after he discussed the issue with senior ministers and top officials at a high-level meeting.
The death toll in the pre-dawn attack yesterday, meanwhile, rose to 18 with Sepoy K Vikas Janardhan, who was airlifted to the Army Research and Referral Hospital here after being critically injured, succumbing to injuries.
“The Indian Army has displayed considerable restraint while handling the terrorist situation both along the Line of Control and in hinterland. However, we have the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate by us,” Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh told reporters.
“We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at the time and place of our own choosing.”
The total recoveries from the four slain terrorists was four AK 47 rifles, four Under Barrel Grenade Launchers, 39 Under Barrel Grenade Launcher grenades, five hand grenades, two radio sets, two GPSs, two map sheets, two matrix sheets, one mobile phone and a large number of food and medicine packets having Pakistani markings, he said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag besides other senior officials attended the meeting convened by Modi. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was conspicuous by her absence.
As the worst ever attack on the Army in many years continued to spark outrage and triggered calls for Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation, Union Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said India will have to respond and punish the perpetrators of the attack and “can no more take it lying down”.
Key BJP ally Shiv Sena while needling Modi on the Uri attack said if he does not have the “courage to strike Pakistan” like the US did to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, there is no use of building an international image.
Union Minister and former army chief Gen V K Singh, however, advised the Indian Army to decide on its response “coolly” with proper planning and not to get emotional.
“…from the army’s side, alertness is required. The Kashmir situation needs to be thought about. The action has to be taken without getting influenced by emotions, anger. It has to be taken coolly and with proper planning,” Singh said.
The assertion by Modi yesterday that those behind the Uri attack will not go unpunished had triggered considerable speculation about the options that India could exercise in the current situation.
A swift, surgical strike on terror camps in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir(PoK) was among the options that figured in the speculation but experts also cautioned against consequences and the damages that an escalation could pose if it goes out of hand.
Separately, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the top security brass met to review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the border areas.