By Muslim Mirror Desk,
New Delhi: Lt General (retired) D S Hooda, who was the Northern Army Commander in September 2016 when Indian troops carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads 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”.
On 29 September 2016, India announced that it conducted “surgical strikes” against militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, and inflicted “significant casualties”. Indian media reported the casualty figures variously from 35 to 50. Partial footage of the surgical strikes was released to the Indian media on 27 June 2018.
Pakistan rejected this claim, stating that Indian troops had not crossed the Line of Control but had only skirmished with Pakistani troops at the border, resulting in the deaths of two Pakistani soldiers and the wounding of nine. Pakistan rejected India’s reports of any other casualties. Pakistani sources reported that at least 8 Indian soldiers were killed in the exchange, and one was captured. India confirmed that one of its soldiers was in Pakistani custody, but denied that it was linked to the incident or that any of its soldiers had been killed. Pakistan said India was hiding its casualties.
Media outlets noted that the details regarding the “attack” were still unclear.
Moderating a discussion on the ‘Role of Cross-Border Operations and Surgical Strikes’ at the ongoing Military Literature Festival, Hooda 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”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves as he inspects the guard of honour during ‘Parakram Parv’, an exhibition to commemorate the second anniversary of the surgical strikes, in Jodhpur. (File)
“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 panellists 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, terrorists 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.