Uri attack—another intelligence failure?

uriBy Raj Dixit
Edited by Ashok Kumar
The terrorist attack on Army camp in Uri Sector of Kashmir which had resulted in the death of 18 Soldiers, from 10 Dogra regiment and 6 Bihar regiment of Indian army has sent shock waves all around the country and everyone from political masters to the armchair journalists, to retired diplomats, Defence officials and so called Defence analysts were taken aback. Why every time the Pakistanis come for a walk and kill people at will? It seems our intelligence apparatus has not learnt from the past incursions.
But isn’t it something unusual that had happened this time or is it a routine war mongering which generally occur whenever there is an attack in the valley or around in the Border state of Jammu and Kashmir?
Routine reporting from the media and the press coverage found that as published by The Times of India that a detailed plan with markings in Pushto language were recovered from the slain terrorists. As per reports, the four attackers belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM) who were also claimed to be involved in Pathankot airbase attack in January this year. Besides this several lapses had been reported in the standard operating procedures including, not cutting the tall grasses around the camp. As per the reports of Indian Express, the attack took place as the transition of Army units was underway 10 Dogra regiment was to hand over charge to 6 Bihar regiment. The assault occurred just before the last sentry was about to take over. The precision and efficiency with which the attackers had executed their plans raise many unanswered questions?
Does the Senior leadership of Army such as Director General Military Operations, Director General military intelligence, Intelligence Bureau officials and a battery of security personnel are there just to show their professional incompetence and poor leadership qualities? Even the highest public official of the state holding the gubernatorial office is the former Home secretary. How would a common man react to their professional incompetence and failures?
Does the responsibility of Director General Military Operations end after speaking to their Pakistani counterparts on the ‘so called’ hot line? When they demanded the actionable evidences, generally, their arguments fall flat. (It’s true that it is not such an easy task, however, it does prove how “naive” our political and military leadership is)?
Most of them know they would complete their tenures. That’s what had happened in case of military leadership such as the then (DGMI ) Lt.Gen S.Padmanabhan responsible for the Kargil fiasco (DG Military Operation Lt.General N C Vij), then ADGMO Lt General J J Singh and Lt. General Kishan Pal 15 Corps too. Some of them, later on, not only became the Chief of the Army staff but some even enjoyed the gubernatorial public offices after their retirement.

Uri is a tehsil of Baramulla district with about a population of 60,000 . It is located hardly about six kilometers from line of Control. One would appreciate the fact that despite there being no fence between Army cantonment and civilian population area and despite the mass agitation for the last two months with curfew imposed all over the valley, the life in the Uri town is normal since the ceasefire of 2003, largely unaffected till the incidence of attack of 18 September 2016, on the HQ of 12 Infantry Brigade. Even the bus service Aman-e-Karavan (a bus service plying between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad) not only runs through Uri town but also passes through the cantonment. Notwithstanding the attack, the bus service had not been stopped.

It may be recalled that on 2 May 1999, a shepherd informed the Indian soldiers regarding the movements in the Batalik region (bunkers ) of Kargil and later on what happened the world knows. But have we learnt anything from the past mistakes?
The then Chief of Army Staff General V.P.Malik was on holidays to Poland. The then Corps commander of 15 Corps Lt.General Kishan Pal had ill informed the country about the number of infiltrators about 45 whereas the then Brigade Commander Davinder Singh thought, as per his reports, they were about 600 or so. As per media reports, this disagreement led him to contest his case (after the Kargil war) in the tribunal where he had to fight a legal battle for about a decade to regain and restore his military honours. Besides this, the country had to sacrifice more than 500 soldiers in order to regain its military positions.
Moreover, who could forget the treatment meted out to the body of Captain Saurabh Kalia of Jat Regiment who was abducted by the Pakistani regulars and later threw away his mutilated body. It is considered to be one of the most horrifying cases of war crimes in modern times.
The then defence minister Mr George Fernandes informed the Parliament and said,” the matter is not serious (based on the assessment of Indian Army), the area would be cleared in three days”. Those three days turned into a battle of about of three months (about 80 days). It may be noted that the Pakistan army was not able to send its reinforcements because of the political reasons otherwise the fate of the battle one could guess….
What actually happened, the world knows now, 26 July every year is celebrated as the Vijay Diwas.
The biggest movement of Indian army took place after the 1971 war was in 2001 under the name operation Parakram as a fall out effect of militant attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. It costed millions to the national exchequer but which later turned out be a futile exercise because of the vacillating intent and state of indecisiveness of the political masters. In addition, the untold human sufferings and tragedies were brought to hundreds of families including about 700 soldiers who died while de-mining across the country.
Well, no inquiry committee was instituted by the then BJP led government in order to investigate the causes that led to Kargil conflict. Instead, a review committee was constituted comprising Group of Ministers(GOM) under the Chairmanship of then Home Minister Mr. L. K. Advani. It was proved to be more an eyewash rather than a serious exercise of soul searching of identifying the rationale/reasons of what had gone wrong in “KARGIL FIASCO”.
Whatever had been happening in Jammu & Kashmir in past several months and may continue to happen, is a result massive failure of intelligence services, incompetence and malpractices in the Army , bureaucracy and Political class that need to be thoroughly investigated.
Why did a senior officer of a rank of Brigade Commander, had to wait for more than a decade to restore his military honours?
One could imagine that the same military setup of the so called third largest army of the world was there that led to journey from the Kargil fiasco to Vijay diwas (Victory day of Tiger hill).
One will fail to understand and appreciate the intricacies and complexities involved in the answer of the above stated unless one decides to face the harsh realities in its true colours and the necessary measures on war footing in a multi pronged manner i.e. economic, diplomatic, military, initiative towards the abrogation of Indus water treaty which even the J &K Assembly passed a resolution in 2003 found to be unfair against the interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
As per the existing treaty, India is permitted to use only 20 % of water of western flowing rivers whereas Pakistan is permitted to use 80% of its water resources. However, it might take years in case if India wishes to take action against Pakistan with respect to this 1960 Indus water treaty.
Notwithstanding the above facts, the contribution and role played by brave soldiers of Indian Army couldn’t be forgotten by us. On the one hand, Nachiketa, the Indian airforce pilot, whose fighter plane was shot by Pakistani missiles ,saved his life ejecting out of his aircraft though landed in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir who later on became prisoner of war.He was later released by Pakistani authorities through the mediation of International Red Cross. Ajay Ahuja another brave Indian Air Force pilot was not lucky enough as the former. He too was shot dead by Pakistani firepower in the air. He was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously. Besides,Subedar Yogender Singh Of Granadier’s was awarded Param vir Chakra for playing his role in the capture of Tiger hill, along with Captain Manoj Pandey who was awarded the highest gallantry award posthumously.
By sheer raising the cause of Baluchistan from the ramparts of Red Fort would not help the nation in bringing a lasting peace in Kashmir unless supported by actionable backup plans accompanied by calibrated deeds on the ground or wait till the next———-happen!

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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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