India is weighing its options after the deadly attack on an army base in Uri in Kashmir blamed on a Pakistan-based terror outfit, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a high-level meeting amid strident calls for military action on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
As the worst ever attack on the Army in many years continued to spark outrage and triggered calls for Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation, Union Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said India will have to respond and punish the perpetrators of the attack and ‘can no more take it lying down’.
Key Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena, while needling Modi on the Uri attack, said if he does not have the ‘courage to strike Pakistan’ like the United States did to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, there is no use of building an international image.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag besides other senior officials attended the meeting convened by Modi.
The top security brass briefed the prime minister on the prevailing ground situation in KashmirValley in the wake of the terror attack, official sources said.
The defence minister and the Army chief had visited Kashmir after the attack on Sunday.
"We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished," Modi had said.
The assertion by Modi triggered considerable speculation about the options that India could exercise in the current situation.
A swift, surgical strike on terror camps in PoK was among the options that figured in the speculation but experts also cautioned against consequences and the damages that an escalation could pose if it goes out of hand.
Separately, Rajnath, Parrikar and the top security brass met to review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the border areas.
Doval, Gen Suhag and top officials of the ministries of home and defence, paramilitary forces and chiefs of intelligence agencies briefed the meeting on the latest situation in KashmirValley as well as along the Line of Control official sources said.
Possible strategies to deal with the fresh challenges arising out of the terror attack at the Army Brigade Headquarters, located along the LoC, was also discussed at the meeting, the sources said.
A team of National Investigation Agency is also expected to visit Uri to gather leads and other evidence from the attack site close to the Line of Control.
Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on Sunday said all the four killed militants were foreign terrorists and had carried with them items which had Pakistani markings and that initial reports indicated that they belonged to Jaish-E-Mohammed tanzeem.
Army institutes inquiry to probe lapses
Army on Monday instituted an inquiry into one of the bloodiest attacks in years on its camp at Uri as preliminary investigations suggested the terrorists had entered the area at least a day before mounting the brazen assault.
Official sources said the inquiry, to be completed in a time-bound manner, will suggest measures to prevent such attacks in future as Pakistani-based groups were indulging more in ‘shallow infiltration’.
According to sources, shallow infiltration means when terrorists cross the Line of Control and target the first available army camp or security establishment.
The suspicion about Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists having entered the LoC a day before arose from the fact that they had beards which were not a day old as fidayeen (suicide) squads are clean shaven generally, the source said.
They said the inquiry will look into all possible lapses that could have led to the attack and ascertain whether it could have been prevented.
It will also suggest preventive measures needed to be employed, including realignment of forces around army installations near the LoC.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his ministers and senior officials at the meeting to discuss the Uri attack. Photograph: Press Information Bureau