New Delhi: The 'surgical strikes' conducted by special armed forces commandos across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) during which at least seven terror launch pads were completely destroyed marks a huge departure from the policy of strategic restraint which New Delhi has shown over the last few years in its dealing with Islamabad.
The strikes conducted by special paramilitary commandos in the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday are the first direct military response to terrorist attack in Uri on September 18.
India briefs envoys of 22 nations
As a preventive measure, the country has started preparing for a possible retaliation by the Pakistani forces. In a bid to isolate Pakistan further, the country has also briefed the envoys of the 22 nations, including the P5 nations, about the surgical strikes and the current situation at the Line Of Control.
To mount international pressure on Pakistan, India has already opted out of the SAARC summit, which was to be held in Islamabad. After India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also followed suit,leading to postponement of the SAARC summit.
The cross-border action that began at midnight inflicted significant casualties, Lt General Ranbir Singh, the army's head of operations said during a press briefing.
Pakistan said there had been no such targeted strikes, and military officers claimed they had returned fire across the Line of Control.
India's announcement of last night's military action followed through on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's warning that those responsible "would not go unpunished" for the Uri assault.
The top spokesman for the Pakistani military slammed the Indian account of its action as "totally baseless and completely a lie".
"We deny it. There is no such thing on the ground. There is just the incident of the firing last night, which we responded to," Lt General Asim Bajwa told news channel Geo TV. Pakistan said two of its soldiers had been killed and nine wounded in firing across the Line of Control.
"The bigger message is that Pakistan is now on notice that cross-border attacks would be part of our response if there are any more terrorist attacks," said former Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur.
India's action comes at a crucial time for Pakistan, with powerful Army Chief of Staff General Raheel Sharif due to retire shortly and premier Nawaz Sharif still to decide on a successor.
PM Modi has also called for a review of key water-sharing and trade agreements with Pakistan to corner Islamabad.
High alert on international border
On the other hand, BSF has put all border units along international border on high alert
Officials said the Border Security Force (BSF) has issued orders to all its units along IB in Jammu, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat to step up vigil and bolster their numbers at the posts by bringing in all personnel who are in the reserve.
People living within 10km of the border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab have been asked to shift to safer places and schools ordered to be shut till further notice in the wake of surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army across the Line of Control (LoC).
These directions have been passed on to people living along IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and along LOC in Rajouri and Poonch, officials said.
In some areas of RS Pura, the movement of the border residents to safer places has already begun.
Evacuation in border villages
Army has started evacuating people living in the adjoining areas in Noushera belt of Rajouri anticipation of a possible retaliation by Pakistani troops, officials said.
In Punjab too, people residing in villages within 10 km of the International Border were asked to shift to safer places. Six districts of the state share border with Pakistan.
The schools in the border areas have also been asked to remain shut until further orders, they said.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Badal over telephone today to request him to immediately start the process of evacuation of the people residing in the villages falling within 10km of the international border in view of the escalating situation, the spokesman said.
Badal has directed the chief secretary and DGP to ask the concerned deputy commissioners (DCs) and senior superintendents of police (SSPs) to oversee the entire evacuation process in the border districts of Ferozepur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Taran Tarn, Gurdaspur and Pathankot.