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‘Surgical strike’ overhyped, politicised: Lt Gen (Retd) Hooda

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Chandigarh, Dec 8: Lt General (retired) D S Hooda, who was the Northern Army Commander in September 2016 when Indian troops carried out ‘surgical strikes’ along the Line of Control in the wake of the Uri attack, Friday said the “overhype” of the strikes did not help and “it is not good” when “military operations get politicised”.

Moderating a discussion on the ‘Role of Cross-Border Operations and Surgical Strikes’ at the ongoing Military Literature Festival, Hooda, as per The Indian Express, said following the ‘surgical’ strikes, there were accusations that the issue had been politicised, that there was an “attempt to keep a purely military operation in the political domain by selective leaks of videos, photographs etc”.

“Did the overhype help? I say, completely no. If you start having political resonance in military operations, it is not good. There was too much political banter, on both sides, and when military operations get politicised, that is not good,” he said.

 

On the possibility of the strikes impacting the thought process of decision-makers in future operations, the former Army Commander said “if you hype a successful operation, then even success has its burden”.

“Will we think next time (what) if there are casualties? Because it has been so overhyped, will it impose caution on leadership? What happens if it does not have the same level of success? It may impose some caution in future. If we had done it quietly, it would have been much better,” he said.

Responding to remarks from panelists that the strikes were purely tactical in nature with short-term goals and of no strategic value to deter the Pakistan Army from backing future terror attacks, Hooda said: “When we were planning it, there was no thought in our mind that Pakistan will stop doing Uri-like incidents. At least in the Northern Command, there was simplicity of purpose. For us, it was very simple,” he said.

He said ever since 2013-end, militants had been coming from across the LoC to attack Army installations in Samba, Hiranagar, Janglote, Pathankot and Uri.

“Since July 2016, Army had been under pressure due to protests following (militant commander) Burhan Wani’s death. The Chief of Army Staff flew in and we went to Uri. We walked in three-inch-deep ashes of the camp which had been attacked. There was no doubt in our mind that we had to do something and we had to hit Pakistan camps across the LoC. You may call it revenge but in our mind, this had to be done,” he said.

The aim of the strikes, he said, could not have been fulfilled through artillery fire. “We had had massive artillery duels but it was not helping. Planning had been going on in advance. We pulled out our old plans, refurbished them a bit and sent the Special Forces across. Should it have been publicised? There was no option. Too many questions were being asked. The media and our own Army soldiers were asking, ‘what are we doing about so many deaths of soldiers’,” he said.

He said following the surgical strikes, the Army noted a “fair amount of panic” on the Pakistani side. “Their leaves were cancelled. We caught their chatter on radio. There was talk that we might repeat it in some area. There was fair amount of shock on their part as to how have these guys come in and done this operation. This did impose caution on them in some limited sense,” he said.

Responding to a question from the audience, Hooda said in hindsight, it would have been better had the strikes been done secretly. (Courtesy: Indian Express)


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Militant, Army officer killed in Anantnag gunfight

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Srinagar, Jun 17: An Army officer and a militant were killed and three other soldiers including a Major injured in a gunfight in south Kashmir Anantnag district on Monday, police said.

Police sources said the officer was shot at during the firing exchange between the holed-up militants and security forces in Bidoora village in Achabal area of the district.

The slain militant was believed to be a foreigner.

 

SSP Anantnag, Altaf Khan said that the operation was launched following specific inputs about the presence of some militants in the area.

He said that as the joint team intensified the searches, the militants, hiding in the area, opened fire which was retaliated, triggering off a gunfight.

Initially, sources said, the joint team of forces and militants exchanged gunfire for some time during which the house, in which the militants were hiding, was damaged. Later there was a lull for about an hour even as Army rushed more reinforcements and the joint team started searches to find out the militants.

Soon the militants rose from the debris and opened indiscriminate fire on the forces, resulting in the on-spot death of Major Keetan Sharma and injuries to three others including another Army Major Rahul Verma, sources said.

They added the joint team of forces retailed the fire, leading to the fresh gunfight in an open field. While one militant was killed and the search operation is underway to find if there is any more militant hiding in the area.

The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is being ascertained, sources said.

Meanwhile, youth took to streets and pelted stones at the security forces. The police and paramilitary CRPF deployed in the area used tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse them.

In wake of the operation, the authorities snapped internet service in the southern district.

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IED blast in Pulwama, 6 soldiers, 2 civilians injured

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Srinagar, Jun 17: Militants on Monday attempted to blow off an Army vehicle in a village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

A police official said that an armoured vehicle of Army came under an IED attack in Hargam Arihal village of Pulwama. He added that after the blast militants also fired some gunshots towards the vehicle.

Local residents informed that they heard huge blast followed by gunshots.

 

Reports said that six soldiers and two civilians were injured in the blast. The soldiers were shifted to Army’s 92 base hospital at Badamibagh, Srinagar for treatment.

The area was soon cordoned off, officials said.

Earlier, reports said that militants exploded an IED under a Casper vehicle, extensively damaging it, as an army convoy passed through Arihal. However, the army clarified that the damaged vehicle was not a Casper, but an Ashok Leyland Stallion truck.

Three of them who were travelling in the cabin of the vehicle are stated to be serious, the news agency reported.

The blast was triggered by militants using a car laden with explosives, GNS reported attributing the same to “initial investigations by police.”

“A police officer that the explosives were fitted inside a car and investigators are probing the owner of the vehicle. Asked, which type of vehicle was used, the officer said that it is a matter of investigation,” the news agency reported.

“Samples have been collected and further probe is underway,” the officer was quoted saying.

In a statement, the Army called the attack a “failed attempt” by militants. The troops are safe, barring a few minor injuries, it said, adding, “The area has been cordoned and search operations are in progress”.

The blast comes days after Pakistan had reportedly shared information with India and America regarding the possibility of major militant attack in the south Kashmir district. (With inputs from GNS)

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Emotional scenes at slain SHO’s wreath-laying ceremony

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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SSP Srinagar, Dr Haseeb Mughal holding in his lap the son of slain SHO Arshid Khan during the wreath laying ceremony at DPL, Srinagar on Monday – Photo: Umar Ganie

Srinagar, Jun 17: Emotional scenes were Monday witnessed at District Police Lines (DPL) Srinagar as top cops and bureaucrats attended the wreath-laying ceremony of the slain police officer Arshad Khan, who had sustained critical injuries in a militant attack in Anantnag last week and later succumbed to his injuries at AIIMS, Delhi on Sunday.

J&K Police chief Dilbagh Singh, Advisors to Governor K Vijay Kumar and KK Sharma, Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmed Khan, ADGP Muneer Khan, and SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal, among other civil and police officers were present on the occasion.

J&K Police shared two heart wrenching photos of Dr Mughal carrying the deceased’s son in his arms during the wreath-laying ceremony.

 

In the photos, a teary-eyed Haseeb is seen carrying slain Arshad Khan’s son while paying tributes to his colleague.

On the occasion, Advisor Kumar said that more than 1600 J&K Police personnel have lost their lives in the line of duty.

On June 12, around 4:50 pm, five paramilitary troopers and a militant were killed and four other security forces personnel including Arshad sustained injuries after militants attacked a joint party of CRPF and police at bus stand Anantnag.

Arshad was immediately evacuated to a nearby hospital and then to Srinagar’ SK Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. After being treated there for a few days, he was flown to Delhi’s AIIMS hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

According to police, Arshad was inducted into police services in the year 2002 and was presently posted as SHO Anantnag. Khan is survived by father and mother, wife Neelofar, 5-year-old son Abuhan Khan, Danim 2, and a brother.

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