Reported By : Barkha Dutt
NEW DELHI: The special op forces who crossed the Line of Control for surgical strikes on Wednesday night returned “with not one scratch,” top army forces have told NDTV, denying Pakstani media reports that eight soldiers were killed in the raids in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and one was captured alive. Only one soldier has “minor injuries” from stepping on a mine once back on the Indian side of the Line of Control, said sources.
Army officials say images played out on Pakistan TV channels claiming to show Indian casualties are doctored or morphed clips and “absolutely fake.”
Chandu Babulal Chohan, a 22-year-old soldier from Maharashtra, who is now in Pakistani custody, strayed into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir “inadvertently”; his capture took place much after the strikes were completed and he is unconnected to the operation, sources in the military said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that “all attempts” are being made to free the soldier, who has reportedly been moved to an undisclosed location. Lt General Ranbir Singh, the army’s head of military operations, has called his Pakistani counterpart on the hotline used by top commanders to demand the soldier’s return as is done routinely in such circumstances “through established mechanisms.”
Nearly 200 specially-trained soldiers moved between 500 metres and 2 kilometres across the Line of Control along multiple sectors in Jammu and Kashmir and targeted seven “launch pads” or staging areas where terrorists were waiting to infiltrate India and attack major cities.
Pakistan has denied the surgical strikes took place, acknowledging only that there was cross-border firing on Wednesday night in at least four areas along the Line of Control in which two of its soldiers were killed and nine injured. Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif is quoted in Pakistan media as saying that India should offer evidence of its surgical strikes.
Indian sources say the strikes were filmed, in part by drones, and a decision on releasing evidence shall be a tactical one based on how Pakistan responds in the next few days. “Our soldiers went under the cover of darkness up to 2 kilometres across the Line Of Control and returned before sunrise,” said sources to NDTV yesterday. Former military chiefs praised the timing and execution of the operation, which began at midnight and ended at about 4.30 am.