Manohar Parrikar, who rose from a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to become the country's Defence Minister and also chief minister of Goa, enjoyed a man-next-door image in the politically-volatile coastal state. Parrikar, 63, served the state four times as chief minister and had a three-year-long stint as Defence Minister in the Narendra Modi-led cabinet.
However, Parrikar will always be remembered for the surgical strikes carried out by India Army’s para commanders against terror pads in PoK in September 2016 following after the Uri attack.
Parrikar’s term saw India not only carry out surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Myanmar but also claim political ownership of the targeted operations. The daring move won accolades from political leaders and civil society alike.
In 2017, Parrikar had said the surgical strikes demonstrated India’s hardened military resolve to the world. Parrikar said the surgical strikes against terror pads in PoK had injected uncertainty into the neighbour’s mind.
Parrikar had said the planning for the strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir started in June 2015 after the NSCN-K ambushed an army convoy in Manipur.
Recapping events that led to the surgical strikes, Parrikar had told a gathering of industrialists that he felt "insulted" when he heard about the June 4, 2015 incident in which 18 jawans were killed.
"The starting of September 29 (2016) surgical strike on the western border was 9th of June, 2015....We planned 15 months in advance. Additional troops were trained. Equipment was procured on priority basis," he had said.
The Swathi Weapon Locating Radar, developed by the DRDO, was used first in September 2016 to locate "firing units" of Pakistani Army, though the system was inducted officially three months later, Parrikar said.
It was thanks to the Swathi Radar that 40 firing units of Pakistani Army were destroyed, he added.
Disclosing that the surgical strikes against PoK militants were planned 15 months in advance after the Manipur killings, he said, "I felt insulted....A small terrorist organisation of 200 people killing 18 Dogra soldiers was an insult to the Indian Army and we sat in the afternoon and sat in the evening and worked out the (plan of) first surgical strike which was conducted on 8th June morning in which about 70-80 terrorists were killed (along the India-Myanmar border)."
"It was a very successful strike," he said. On the Army’s side, the only injury was a leech attaching itself to a soldiers leg.
Contrary to some reports, no helicopters were used. "I had placed helicopters (on stand-by) only in case of emergency evacuation," he said.
He also listened intently to a TV discussion with his ministerial colleague Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
"... one question (from media) hurt me. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, an ex-Armyman, was on TV and he was explaining about all kinds of search operations. An anchor asked him would you have the courage and capability of doing the same on the western front," Parrikar recalled.
"I listened very intensely but decided to answer when the time came."
(With PTI inputs)