Is India about to conduct another surgical strike across the border?

 Since 2014, India has conducted two offensive strikes – one in Myanmar in 2015 and the other one in PoK last year. Both signalled a drastic change in New Delhi’s stance in tackling terrorism. Now, it seems as if another surgical strike is brewing in the near future.

I base this conclusion on three points – 1) 150 militants waiting to infiltrate, 2) Surgical strikes is now an option for the army, 3) Unceasing terror attacks. Let me elaborate on the three points.

Possible Militant Infiltration

According to Lt Gen JS Sandhu, Commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps who is responsible for security of the Kashmir Valley, said that many militants are waiting at launch pads in PoK in the areas facing Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu. An estimate placed the number at 150.

“According to an estimate, in our area – 15 Corps – there are about 150 militants at present. There would be some more near Poonch-Rajouri areas (in Jammu region) as well,” Lt Gen JS Sandhu said.

Militant infiltration from PoK has been low this year due to greater alertness of the army, shoot-at-sight orders of the central government, and the fear instilled in terrorists due to last year’s surgical strikes.

“Last year, infiltration from across was high. This year, till now, we have been able to stop them. Snow has also helped us as more snow this year has made it difficult for them to infiltrate. We will continue to stop them so that there is no increase in the militancy,” he said.

Last year’s surgical strike was definitely a retaliation to the Uri attack but it also was an offensive on the militants waiting to infiltrate. Hence, it won’t be surprising if these 150 militants face the same hell as those last year.

Surgical Strikes an Open Option

According to a report, the Indian armed forces have decided that a terrorist attack can trigger a cross-border surgical strike. In other words, the option of a surgical strike has been included in India’s latest military doctrine.

‘The response to terror provocations could be in the form of surgical strikes and these would be subsumed in the sub-conventional portion of the spectrum of armed conflict’ says the Joint Doctrine of Indian Armed Forces which was revealed in the South Block on Tuesday.

Earlier, major terrorist attacks such as the Parliament attack or the Mumbai attacks were retorted with sluggish diplomacy and slow mobilisation of forces on the border. Eventually, Pakistan used to get away scot-free.

This doctrine is a huge change in India’s stance. To reply to terror attacks with surgical strikes is in essence retaliation in much greater magnitude.

Continuing Terror Attacks

The latest terror attack took place in Kupwara that resulted in the death of at least two Pakistani terrorists. Sadly, we also sustained casualties.

These attacks aren’t stopping, and with the Modi government having given the armed forces freedom to act, it is very possible that India will look to step-up the ante and conduct another surgical strike.

Vinayak Jain