One year ago, Indian Army instilled fear in the hearts and minds of Pakistan-based terrorists running camps to infuse tension in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian soldiers crossed over the Line of Control and attacked specific targets to hurt the machinery that sponsors terrorism in India.
The surgical strike, which was launched in the response of the Uri attack, has been celebrated by the Modi Government as a major achievement in the war against terror.
Surgical strikes are military attacks which are intended to result in damage to the intended legitimate military target only with aim of minimum collateral damage induced in the nearby areas and civilians.
The neutralization of only the specific targets in this case also prevents the escalation of the military tensions to the scale of a full-blown war.
On its first anniversary, let's examine the history of surgical strikes by India:
East Pakistan, or current day Bangladesh (1971)
In 1971, the Indian Army closely collaborated with ‘Mukti Bahini’ inside the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) state in the build-up to the 1971 Bangladesh war. However, this operation has not been officially acknowledged by the Indian authorities.
In 1971, the Indian Special Forces and the Ghatak platoons of infantry conducted tactical operations across the Line of Control in Kashmir, and caused small-scale damages across the border. By these strikes, the Indian Army was able to send a strong point across.
Myanmar (Apr-May 1995)
In 1995, India and Myanmar (then Burma) conducted a joint military operation blocking around 200 NSCN, ULFA and KLO militants moving through the Burma-Mizoram border. The militants were moving towards Manipur after picking up an arms consignment from Bangladesh.
In December 2003, the Indian Army conducted an operation, which is famously known as “Operation All Clear”, inside Bhutan to eliminate the northeastern militant groups. The operation was acknowledged by the Government. About 30 militant camps were targeted during this operation, including ULFA, NDFB and KLO hideouts, which lead to 650 militants being “neutralized”.
In January 2006, the Indian Army and security forces in Myanmar reportedly conducted joint military operations inside the territory of Myanmar, targeting local militants in lieu of the exchange of some military equipments to the Myanmar Army by India.
In June 2015, a team comprising of about 70 Indian Army commandos carried out surgical strike inside the jungles of Myanmar. The 40-minute operation took out 38 dreaded Naga militants and left seven injured. The strike was planned hours after the Naga militants killed 18 Indian soldiers in an ambush at the Chandel area of Manipur on June 4th, 2015.
Pakistan (September 29, 2016)
India claimed to have made “surgical strikes” against several militant bases, or terrorist launch-pads in the Pakistan-held territory and claimed to have killed 9 Pakistani soldiers and up to 50 militants.
Pakistan denied about the occurrence of any such strike and said that that Indian soldiers only fired upon the Pakistani soldiers, who then fired back. Pakistan also claimed that two of its soldiers were killed and that it had killed 8-14 Indian soldiers and captured one.
India acknowledged that one soldier had been injured, though none had been killed. India also acknowledged the capturing of one soldier by Pakistan, though not during its “surgical strike”.
Disputed surgical strikes
After the glorification of the surgical strike by Modi Government last year, former UPA Govt claimed that the surgical strikes happened frequently under the previous government, however, were not publicly acknowledged or promoted.
Former home minister P Chidambaram told media that Congress-led government sanctioned surgical strikes in 2013.
Tformer DGMO Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia rubbished Congress’ claims of 'surgical strikes' during the UPA government’s tenure. He said the surgical strikes now and operations than "can't be compared" as they were mere cross-border actions.