Eighteen terrorists, 14 from the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), have been gunned down over three weeks in the Valley. These include the second-in-command and key commanders of the terror outfit that planned and executed the lethal February 14 Pulwama attack, killing over 40 CRPF personnel. Violence begets violence and there was a response which came fast, and expectedly, all guns blazing. Not losing any time, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the immediate movement of the armed forces and the deployment of an additional 100 companies of the paramilitary forces in the Valley. There was pressure to deliver: Jaish operatives had to be wiped out in the Valley. Simultaneously, they had to be eliminated across the border. What followed was the daring success of the February 26 airstrikes unleashed on JeM training camps at Balakot.
After the Pulwama attack, with an iron hand and a new resolve, the security forces have determinedly dealt a major blow to JeM, taking out key conspirators one by one. The Sunday encounter saw the killing of 25-year-old main Jaish coordinator of the Pulwama attack, besides a Pakistani national and the group’s operational chief. Operations will continue ‘till we eliminate all of them’, declared the Army during a joint briefing. In attendance were the IGP and the CRPF IG (Operations) in Kashmir. The coming together of the forces on intelligence sharing, seamless communication and rapid action is clearly a reason for the successful operations that have liquidated Jaish leadership in the Valley. Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba are on the radar, too. The objective being that there is no recurrence of a Pulwama or Uri.
In what underpins India’s declaration on Balakot, a videotape quotes the PoK police and civilian population as claiming that four Pakistani soldiers were killed in the airstrikes and infrastructure had, indeed, been damaged. Foreign media had in a rush undermined India’s claim of having effected substantial damage, but did admit later to ‘limited’ assessment. The IAF’s claims of success stand vindicated. Balakot action has struck the message home: India will not think twice before penetrating the borders of its adversaries to avenge the killings of its soldiers.