The terrorist attack on the Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir may have been successful in causing high casualties but it was not entirely unexpected or unanticipated. While the actual place and timing of a fidayeen attack can be extremely difficult to predict, given the widespread civil unrest in the Valley, the Army and intelligence apparatus were aware that it was only a matter of time when the Pakistani handlers would direct a terror strike which will hit hard in support of the on-going unrest.
In fact, soon after information on the attack in Uri came in public domain, Lt Gen SA Hasnain (retd), a former Brigade Commander in Uri himself and a former GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, tweeted that just ten days back he had warned the present Brigade Commander in Uri about such an attack being in the offing. This clearly shows that information and intelligence of a fidayeen attack existed and was known even to Kashmir watchers.
While the death of 17 army jawans and whether there was adequate reaction from the personnel deployed in the defence of the camp will be debated in the days to come, at the macro level, the attack is being seen as a clear indication that attempts are being made to ensure that the stone-throwing civil unrest will now be supplemented with major attacks on military installations.
Former Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen HS Panag (retd), said that while such attacks have taken place in the past, this time around there seems to be a change in the operational behaviour of the infiltrating terrorists. “Earlier these infiltrators used to hunker down in interior areas for a while before carrying out their assigned tasks. However, now it is being seen that immediately after infiltration they resort to attacks,” he said.
Sources in Army’s Northern Command as well as the 15 Corps say that there have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan wanted a ‘spectacular’ strike which would cause heavy damage and casualties in order to demonstrate to the leaders of the civil unrest in the valley that it was not sitting by silently in military aspects. “The aim was to boost the morale of the civil unrest handlers by assuring them that the capability to hit out across the Line of Control still exists,” said a senior officer.
Attacks on military and para-military convoys in recent days were also an indication that an effort was on to cause maximum damage to security forces. With winters closing in and the avenues of infiltration steadily shutting down in the weeks to come due to snowfall, indications on the ground are that an attempt at a larger influx of terrorists is being made to ensure that the winters do not remain passive and the Valley is kept on the boil.