It is not yet clear when the army actually received “specific and credible” inputs about terrorists gathering at “launch pads” behind the Line of Control (LoC), but the plan to take these out was well in place by Wednesday — a day that saw a flurry of high-level activity involving the brass as well as their civilian masters.
The mission to strike behind the LoC was actively monitored by senior officers in the army’s ‘operations room’ at the Ministry of Defence in South Block, sources told.
They said Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh himself was in the operations room on Wednesday night as Special Forces Para Commandos from the 4th and 9th Battalions of the Northern Command prepared for the assault that was launched around midnight. The operation concluded around 4.30 Thursday morning.
The sources said the commandos were air-dropped close to the LoC and they struck at seven terrorist launch pads around 2km to 3km inside Pakistan territory — across the LoC in the Poonch and Kupwara sectors.
The sources confirmed that the terrorists — who were planning strikes in Kashmir as well as several metros — suffered “significant casualties”. Although no details were released by the army, some reports said the number of terrorists killed was 38.
Earlier on Wednesday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met the three Service chiefs at his office around 5 p.m. He later went to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the sources said.
Modi had met the army and air force chiefs and the Vice Chief of the navy on Saturday, September 24. He also visited the operations room on Monday, September 26, the sources said, though it is not clear whether plan to launch the surgical strikes had been firmed up by then.
There have been a series of high-level meetings in the government following the terror attack in Uri earlier this month that killed 18 soldiers. India has blamed the terror attack on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba.