In a surprise move, the Indian Air Force carried out pre-dawn airstrikes on Tuesday and destroyed major launch pads of the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was behind the February 14 Pulwama terror attack. The initial reports suggest that the ‘Surgical Strike 2.0’ decimated Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Alpha 3 Control Rooms located in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakothi in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. More than 10 bombs were dropped by the multi-role fighter jet Mirage 2000 at around 3:30 am on Tuesday morning. Understandably, Pakistan has downplayed the airstrike. The aerial attack comes day after Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a high-level meeting with all three service chiefs.
Defence experts say that Mirages would have used 500 kg laser-guided bombs. The Mirage 2000s may have used Israeli lightening laser designator pods to drop their precision bombs.Though Pakistan has tweeted the photos of large craters, the actual impact of the airstrike will be revealed by the satellite images.
There are unverified reports that many residents of Srinagar heard planes hovering over the city all night. In terms of geography, while Muzaffarabad and Chakothi are located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the fact is Balakot is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. If the targets of the airstrikes are confirmed, this means that India has hit locations deep into Pakisan and not PoK. Balakot is about 50 miles from the ceasefire border known as the “line of control” based on lines established after the first war the two countries fought over Kashmir shortly after independence in 1947.
The airstrikes are seen as a way by India avenging the Pulwama terror attack. On February 14, around 40 CRPF personnel were killed when a suicide bomber rammed into a convoy while moving from Jammu to Srinagar in Lethpora area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed the responsibility of the attack.
On September 18, 2016 militants attacked the Army’s Uri base camp and killed 19 unarmed soldiers. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has ordered deployment of 100 companies of paramilitary forces in the Kashmir Valley on an urgent basis. In a letter dated February 22, the government ordered deployment of forces with 'immediate effect' in addition to the number of forces already stationed in the state. The letter was addressed to the Jammu and Kashmir home secretary, the state Chief Secretary and the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
According to reports, paramilitary forces are being airlifted to Srinagar. Sources say, the extra number of paramilitary forces companies of BSF, CRPF and ITBP were sent for panchayat polls in the state and were to be called back after the commencement of the election, but now it has been decided not to call them off.