HOURS AFTER the IAF conducted a pre-dawn strike at a Jaish-e-Mohammad training facility in Pakistan, the government told an all-party meeting on Tuesday that it was an “anti-terrorist operation” and not a “military” action.
Quoting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, a senior Opposition leader who attended the meeting said: “It was not a military operation. There is no intention to go further on this aspect. It was a pre-emptive attack on terrorism. Intelligence was gathered… on that spot, a large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad operators, their commandos, their fidayeen and their instructors were there… 12 Mirage fighter planes were sent and they did their job and came back.”
India confirms air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan
The Opposition also congratulated the IAF for the “meticulous” operation. Senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab told the government not to hesitate in conducting such strikes, if need be. “We should not let our guard down,” he said. Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said they extended all support to security forces to tackle terrorism from across the border.
Swaraj later said: “I am happy that all representatives of political parties in one voice first congratulated the Indian Air Force and also assured the government of their complete support always on any action taken by us against terrorism and displayed unity by rising above politics without distinguishing between the ruling or the opposition sides.”
Speaking to reporters, Azad said: “The big thing is that it was a clean operation… The Air Force deserves congratulations for that too… they have only eliminated terrorism and terrorists and not inflicted damage on civilians.”
At the same time, some leaders, particularly from the Left, asked the government to ensure that jingoistic passions are not aroused and refrain from public remarks about contentious issues such as articles 370 and 35A, which give special rights to J&K.
The leaders were briefed by Swaraj, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath Singh also present. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not participate in the meeting. CPI leader D Raja said Swaraj conveyed that she has spoken to several of her foreign counterparts, and will also meet the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers on her visit to China.
The government did not provide specific details of the operation but said intelligence inputs had suggested the JeM was planning attacks in India. NC leader Omar Abdullah, Azad and TMC’s Derek O’Brien emphasised that the government needs to ensure the safety of Kashmiris outside the state. Raja and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said jingoistic feelings should not be allowed to rise in the wake of the action.
“Tension and insecurity in the state of Jammu & Kashmir must be brought down and the Centre must ensure that it does not escalate. Raising controversial issues like Articles 370 and 35A will be counter-productive and damaging. Government cannot allow attacks on Kashmiris living in other parts of India, this will not strengthen India’s unity and integrity, but only damage it.” Yechury said.
“We congratulate the action. But at the same time, the country should remain together…This is the time to reach out to the people of J&K, and win their hearts and minds,” Raja said.