Surgical Strike: Part One

Dr. Shreeprasad Sidhaye
02 Dec 2018

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This is the story of the surgical strike by India’s Para Special Forces into PoK on 29th September 2016.

This write-up is based upon my personal interpretation of YouTube video interviews of Lt. Gen. (retired) D S Hooda and Nimbhorkar, the book India’s Most Fearless, and the documentary “Special Operations India”.

The  Para Special Forces (SF) had successfully carried out raids on terrorist hideouts in Myanmar in 2015. This success set into motion a thought in the minds of our very senior Army Brass (the term “Army brass” is used to collectively describe those in the Army who have considerable authority). They began thinking “if the Govt asks us to carry out a similar operation on the Western front, how we are going to respond?” They had every reason to think along these lines for a couple of reasons:

  1. Our Western neighbor, Pakistan, was troubling us way more than the inimical forces on the Eastern front. We needed to teach them a lesson.

  2. After the Myanmar operation, Pakistan had unnecessarily warned us by saying, “Don’t get overconfident, we are not Myanmar”. This warning meant that they anticipated the possibility of such an attack against them and would be ready to handle it. For a country that has a very poor record of speaking the truth, this was for a change indeed a correct statement. We needed to be very well-prepared to undertake something like this against Pakistan.

  3. The India-Pakistan border is perhaps the most fiercely guarded border in the world.

  4. One must also admit that they have very good informers on our side. A small mistake could have jeopardized the whole operation.

  5. Pakistan rangers (the counterpart of our BSF) have good manpower, equipment and they are well-versed with the terrain. They have the Pakistan Army as second tier of defence. They too are well staffed, equipped, and experienced. Undoubtedly, this was a much bigger challenge than Myanmar.

  6. The border has electronic surveillance gadgets like drones. These can make it very difficult for the SF to cross over to the other side.  

  7. There are very small villages very close to the actual LoC on both sides. They can note suspicious movements and alert security forces.

  8. Last but not the least, Pakistan considers these terrorists, their camps and launch pads as ‘assets’, therefore, they are located fairly deep in the enemy territory. Obviously, our SF would need to travel deep into a risky terrain, raising risks enormously.

On account of all these factors, the thinking and planning process started almost immediately in the Head Quarters and Northern Army Command. A certain number of SFs were relieved from their regular duties, taken into confidence and were asked to do their homework. They had to be prepared to undertake such an operation at a short notice.

Targets were identified, the ‘lay of the land’ was studied. It was ascertained how many villages were on the Pakistan side of the LoC, how many Pakistani rangers and Army posts were around, what their location was, what the distance between our launch pads and enemy locations was, along with many other factors.

The villages around the LoC have many stray dogs. If our incoming SFs are noticed by dogs, they could start barking and alert people. They went so far as to studying techniques to scare off dogs! They realized that there were leopards in that area. If leopards see a dog, they attack and kill them, so naturally, the dogs are scared of leopards. To scare the dogs off, the urine of leopards was collected. It was decided that the SFs would carry it in bottles and if they passed near the Pakistani villages, they would spray it around. The dogs, known for their keen sense of smell will most definitely stay off. In case something went wrong, additional forces and artillery were to be kept ready.

On 19th September 2016, a few terrorists attacked the Brigade HQ in Uri and 19 of our soldiers were martyred. Apart from the human losses, it was a massive insult to the might of the State. The remaining soldiers and officers were extremely saddened, demoralized, seething with anger, and crying for revenge and restoration of their self-respect.
The Govt took both the audacity of the provocation and the feelings of the Armed Forces into account and asked that question, which the Army had been waiting for.

Can you cross the border and repeat what you had done last year?

Image credits: Facebook ADGPI account 
(Image is representational only)

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Dr. Shreeprasad Sidhaye

Did my MBBS from M R Medical College, Gulbarga. Started private practice in Baramati in 1987. Working as a Medical Advisor to five industries in Baramati. Military history of India and tourism are my extracurricular interests.

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