IAF's Balakot operation against JeM is proof of Narendra Modi government's decisiveness

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph:( ANI )

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India Feb 27, 2019, 10.37 AM (IST) Lalit Shastri

India has avenged the martyrdom of CRPF personnel in the Pulwama attack with its decisive and highly successful intelligence-led operation.

In a pre-dawn air strike, Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 jets flew inside the Pak territory and bombed the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot in Pakistan.

According to Vijay Gokhale, India’s Foreign Secretary, in the precise air strike that destroyed the terrorist training camp, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of JeM chief and India’s most wanted terrorist in Pakistan, Masood Azhar.

On February 14, CRPF personnel were martyred when a terrorist smashed a car-borne IED vehicle into a CRPF convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district. JeM was quick to take responsibility for this attack.

In a major encounter the next day, security forces in Kashmir zeroed in and eliminated three terrorists, including the mastermind of this attack. In the gun battle that ensued, four army personnel were martyred.

Opposition leaders had started talking of the “timing” and were even accusing the Narendra Modi government and the ruling BJP of politicising the Pulwama attack ahead of the parliamentary election. The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had taken the lead by launching a tirade against Modi on this count.

The scenario after Tuesday’s air strike has changed diametrically and leaders, who were briefed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at an all-party meet about the blasting of JeM terror infrastructure in Pakistan, have congratulated the IAF. The main opposition Congress party has also said that it will support security forces in their effort to finish terrorism being exported from across the border. 

Without directly mentioning the air strike and the bombing of the JeM terror camps in Pakistan, Prime Minister Modi, while addressing a BJP rally at Churu in Rajasthan on Tuesday said it is a day to celebrate. He was cheered and applauded by the people when he was emphatic in assuring the citizens that the country is in safe hands.

While giving Pakistan every chance to act against terror, Prime Minister Modi has continued to handle the problem with an iron fist. Two-and-half years ago, on 18 September 2016, four heavily armed Pakistani Islamic terrorists had attacked the Uri Army camp killing 19 soldiers. Within days of this attack, India had conducted surgical strikes and demolished a number of terrorist launch pads in Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Coinciding with the punitive action by India after the Uri incident, Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the BJP National Council at Kozhikode in Kerala, had cautioned the people of Pakistan against their leaders saying they were reading the text prepared by those running terrorist outfits. While accepting the challenge of war, Modi had also underscored his priority stating that he would instead like the two countries to wage a war against poverty and illiteracy.

During the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council in the second fortnight of September 2016, India had focussed global attention on Pakistan and its role in spreading terror by stating that the fundamental reason for disturbances in Kashmir is cross-border terrorism promoted by Pakistan.

Over the years, Indian soldiers were laying down their life and casualties have continued to mount in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides the Pak sponsored terror or the low-intensity war waged by Pakistan, the Kashmir valley also has been reeling under the impact of violence perpetuated by the large-scale radicalisation of the Kashmiri youth. The pattern is clear, while the terrorists operating from bases in Pakistan have been infiltrating into Jammu and Kashmir to strike targets in the trouble-torn state, the separatists have been working in tandem with their ISI handlers in Pakistan to radicalise the local youth being used to attack the security forces.

As there was a spurt in violent incidents and efforts had failed to ensure steps by Mehbooba Mufti, as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to stop the radicalisation of Kashmiri youth, Governor's rule was imposed in the trouble-torn state in June 2018 following the withdrawal of support to the then Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government by the BJP.

JeM chief, Masood Azhar’s involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack, 2016 Pathankot attack, 2008 Mumbai attack and now the Pulwama attack has been established by the Indian authorities with evidence handed over to Pakistan to act appropriately in the war against terror. Masood Azhar was released by India in exchange for passengers of Indian Airlines flight 814 hijacked in December 1999.

Between 2004 and 2014, under the Congress-led UPA I and UPA II, the situation in Kashmir were allowed to drift and the proposals to strike targets inside Pakistan were swept under the carpet. The Modi-led NDA government’s decision to give a free hand to the defence forces and take direct action to demolish the terror infrastructure in Pakistan has led to an upsurge of support for Narendra Modi across India. Major countries are also on the same page with Modi when it comes to fighting terror.

India’s stand vis-a-vis war against terror has been underscored precisely by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Beijing. In her opening remarks at the Foreign Ministers Meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC), she emphasised that Pakistan is a terror haven and went on to point out that the air strike in Pakistan was aimed against the JeM infrastructure and not against military installations.


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Lalit Shastri

Lalit Shastri is an Indian journalist, editor, environmentalist and a wildlife film maker

Story highlights

Prime Minister Modi has continued to handle the problem with an iron fist.