Pakistan will pay for its "misadventure" and India reserved the right to respond at a "time of its choosing", Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday, while blaming Islamabad for the terrorist attack at the Indian Army's Sunjuwan military camp in Jammu.
After a visit to the Army camp, Sitharaman also asserted that Islamabad was expanding its "arc of terror" to areas south of the Pir Panjal Range in the Jammu region. The defence minister added that Rs 14.87 billion (Rs 1,487 crore) has been allocated to enhance security at military installations.
A group of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists had struck the Sunjuwan military camp in the wee hours on Saturday, killing six people, including five soldiers. Three terrorists were also gunned down. However, despite her strong words, the defence minister refused to "set a timeline" for when Pakistan would "pay for its misadventure". Here are the top 10 developments:
1) Pakistan will 'pay' at a time of India's choosing: Sitharaman blamed Pakistan for the terrorist attack at the Sunjuwan military camp and made it clear that it will pay the price for its "misadventure". She asserted that even though evidence of Pakistan's role may be shared, India still reserved the "right to respond adequately at the time of our choosing". "Pakistan will pay for this misadventure. I repeat, Pakistan will pay for it," the defence minister, who arrived in Jammu on Monday to take stock of the situation, told reporters. "I would not certainly set a timeline but Pakistan will pay for this misadventure. I can only assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the entire country that the Army, both the governments at the state and the Centre, are definitely looking at it with all seriousness," she said.
2) India will share evidence with Pakistan, but it still reserves the right to retaliate: Asked whether the government was sharing evidence with Pakistan, Sitharaman replied in the affirmative. "Yes, all the evidences which have been collected will be compiled and, definitely, the evidences will be given, as always, to Pakistan. But, Pakistan, inspite of being given dossier after dossier, has not taken any action, she said. "On the contrary, we find people directly responsible for the Mumbai attack and many others still free and roaming happily in Pakistan," the defence minister added.
She said the Centre would provide evidence to prove that the handlers of the terrorists were back in Pakistan and were influencing the attack. Sitharaman said giving evidence to Pakistan would have to be a continuous process because it has to be proven over and over again, as many number of times, so that their involvement is there for everybody to see. "The evidences will strengthen that argument. But giving that does not deny us our right to respond adequately and at a time of which we think fit," she said.
3) 'Terrorists may have enjoyed local support': The defence minister said the JeM module that conducted the attack might have infiltrated sometime back and possibly enjoyed local support. "The demography of the cantonment and adjoining areas indicates the possibility of local support to the terrorists and an alert had been sounded on the likelihood of an attack by the terrorists around this period," she said. ALSO READ: JeM attack on army camp: NIA team visits site to examine evidences
4) Army quick reaction teams deployed at vulnerable areas: The defence minister said that quick reaction teams (QRTs) were deployed in vulnerable areas. It was assessed that Pakistan-sponsored terrorists might target softer elements. Hence, QRTs were also positioned at the Sunjuwan family quarters, she said. Sitharaman said the intrusion by the terrorists was promptly detected by the sentry and challenged by a nearby QRT, leading to the brief exchange of fire.
"This immediate action forced terrorists to split into individual positions and prevented a coordinated strike. The scattered terrorists reached the family quarters and occupied some of the blocks," she said. They were isolated, and since the terrorists were dressed in battle fatigues, and had an appearance similar to their possible victims, the operation had to be done "deliberately slow" to avoid collateral damages, she said. "The operation entailed the deliberate search of 26 blocks and safe evacuation of families from 189 flats, which was time consuming and a challenging task, she said.
5) Government allocates Rs 14.87 billion for security at military installations: The defence minister said that Rs 14.87 billion (Rs 1,487 crore) have been allocated to enhance security at military installations.
Sitharaman maintained that the government was implementing the Philip Compose Committee report for the security of all military installations. She said, "Although the terrain configuration and snow conditions make it difficult to completely stop the infiltration, the government is undertaking a host of measures in procuring modern electronic surveillance systems... for which a sum of Rs 14.87 billion (Rs 1,487 crore) has been allocated."
6) Action to be taken on civilian structures: Sitharaman also assured action regarding civilian buildings situated very close to the peripheral walls of defence installations in the country. Sitharaman, who addressed the media after a visit to the Sunjuwan Army camp that was attacked by terrorists, said it was located on Jammu outskirts and only about 30 km from the International Border in a semi-urbanised environment with densely populated civilian localities adjacent to its perimeter wall.
Sitharaman said military stations all over the country were facing the problem of civilian constructions coming up too close to them. "Definitely, it should stop. This problem is not only in Jammu and Kashmir. Wherever there is cantonment (area), military stations, we are facing the problem that civil constructions come up very close to the peripheral wall. It is difficult to remove them," she said, adding, "Whether these have to be removed or not because they are also being made with permission... we are doing a study throughout the country on what is happening near the peripheral walls. Certainly, we will take action."
7) Pakistan expanding its 'arc of terror': Sitharaman said Pakistan was resorting to ceasefire violations to assist infiltration and asserted that Islamabad was expanding its "arc of terror" to areas south of the Pir Panjal Range in the Jammu region. Sitharaman, however, said infiltration across the LoC had ebbed due to the deployment of the anti-infiltration obstacle system (AIOS) and a dynamic multi-layered counter-infiltration grid. "Pakistan is expanding the arc of terror to the areas south of Pir Panjal Range (Jammu region) and resorting to ceasefire violations to assist infiltration. These are being responded appropriately," Sitharaman said.
8) More UAVs, sensors, surveillance along the LoC: The defence minister also said that security along the LoC was further being beefed up with electronic surveillance equipment. "With a view to enhance alertness along the borders, additional sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and long-range surveillance devices have already been deployed to cover the entire frontage of the LoC," she said. The minister said terrorist activities in the hinterland were being controlled. "The activities of the terrorists in the hinterland are being severely curtailed due to the relentless efforts of the security forces," she said.
9) More intelligence inputs to be shared: Sitharaman hailed the coordination among various security agencies operating in Jammu and said "there will be more information sharing with state police". Sitharaman also said that intelligence inputs suggested that terrorists who attacked the Sunjuwan Camp were controlled by handlers from across the border. Three terrorists were killed even as the initial information was about four of them, she said, adding that the fourth may have acted as a guide. Counter-terrorist operations at the military camp were called off on Monday morning but sanitisation operations were still on (as of Monday), she added.
10) Sitharaman visits the injured: Earlier on Monday, the minister undertook an aerial survey of the Army station and visited the Army Hospital in Jammu city where those injured in the terrorist attack were being treated. She also called on Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.