On September 29, 2016 Indian Army carried surgical strikes behind enemy lines and neutralised a plethora of terrorists. The team of Indian soldiers which conducted the lethal surgical strikes exclusively spoke to NewsX, narrating the entire operation in full details. The team spoke on the number of casualties it inflicted, how it exfiltrated from the site and the return routes it took.
Duration of strike
The duration of our contact…it was swift engagement, around 15-20 minutes long. After which, our support team started firing at them and was trying to retrieve us because by then the enemy had started firing as well… their rear posts had started firing at us. And they started firing their mortars and heavy caliber weapons.
The Indian troops fired heavily at the the target for 12-15 minutes.
How many killed
When we saw the condition of the posts we knew no one had escaped alive… at least 10-15 men had died. There was nothing left; it was all up in smoke and flames. Out of the 12-15 men that were there, 7-8 had died on the spot.
My group of four had engaged 7-8 of their men. We had destroyed three of their barracks and one of their recreation rooms.
We had support weapons and other teams too. Their bunkers, fuel dumps, all exploded. What the intelligence agencies told us about the casualties … total 70-80 persons overall in all 3-4 targets. In our area, they said there were 30-40 casualties. Our aim wasn’t to target a particular individual or extract any kind of information … neither was our aim to bring back any proof. All we had our mind was to avenge the Uri strike, and do it with complete ruthlessness, before returning. We never thought of returning with any video or proof. We carried out our task as per directions given to us.
Reaction from Pak Army
When they started firing… about 20-25 minutes later, they started responding. So we started marching toward our area ….towards some growth.
When the LP-OP party fired towards the end…they thought we would evacuate from along the stream. But we actually started advancing towards where our post was closest……So they were a little confused… they fired maximum mortar rounds, as a result, towards the LP-OP party. During the time the rounds were being fired, we were lucky that they were missing target. Maybe they were falling into the stream or some other reason, but they were going ‘blind’. We had already marched towards our safe area.
For almost 3-4 hours there was heavy firing… whenever we felt like we were under attack or a round has hit the trees above our heads, we would try to figure from which post the shots were coming from. So then we would pass on the message to our superior… we already had an anchor, an infantry battalion we were attached to…they would then engage the Pakistan post with their support weapons. That’s how we stayed out from their firing range and marched out of there at the earliest.
Close to around 20 minutes, they had commenced their operation…their posts at the top, though, didn’t know our location. So they started mortar fire. They had a few HMG etc that they started firing. But the shots were travelling above our heads, since we were in the jungle below. We were facing trouble returning to our posts.
There were other posts…from where we were being fired upon heavily…mortar fire too…it was in the general area …a lot of the shots being fired from small arms or weapons were flying above our heads or hitting tree leaves. We realised their other posts were now firing indiscriminately. It was still all within our control…we weren’t constantly taking cover… we weren’t in the open and we were working in a certain rhythm. We wanted to return safe.
First, our strike team de-inducted themselves…exfiltrated from there. Our move was backed by our support team, so we return safe and sound.
Our sole aim was to return without any injuries, no matter what. Our return was as deliberate as our insertion. But again, the return was very swift and fast because we were being fired upon very heavily…from their posts…mortar rounds were falling ahead of us. So, we had to retrieve fast and reach our location.
Around 6:30am, we had started de-inducting our teams from there. We had spent 15-20 minutes there already. The teams which were ahead were leaving while simultaneously firing at the enemy…they were sending us feedback that it was clear.
We had to disperse in small groups and the firing continued.
Our support group covered our move and then finally our support group left from there. Then there were other groups assigned for our exfiltration… they covered our move… then again in small groups we evacuated from different locations through different routes towards our posts.
We took the same route through which we came. They wrongly presumed we’d escape through the stream. They didn’t think we’d climb hills to escape; they thought we would use the stream and they started mortar shelling towards the stream. But we climbed the slope….at about about 500-700 meters, we took cover and took a break …and then we started our march again.
We identified 2-3 different routes for the location. We took the shortest route on our way back. So our return trail was different from our insertion trail.
We did select the shortest route but it had quite a bit of gradient…it was very steep. It was definitely difficult but it was part of the plan…we had already fixed ropes, so with their help, we moved out fast.
As we were climbing up, they were firing at us using heavy weapons, mortars and their support weapons. So, we were moving from cover to cover, concealing ourselves. We were avoiding areas where they were firing heavily. We followed our decided route which was under cover…wherever we felt there was heavy fire, we paused for a few seconds, relaxed and then swiftly moved forward.
We took the alternative route, but the Neelam valley party took the same route, which was difficult…they did so because the enemy would’ve thought that anyone who wanted to escape would use the stream route. So they would fire maximum towards the stream. The party instead used the ropes to climb the hill slowly and escape.
We would tell our support team that there is firing coming in our direction from such and such post, so they’d fire from the top and control it. For the little time that they would get neutralised or take cover, we’d swiftly cover ground and reach further growth. After we climbed 3-3.5 kilometre uphill, we halted again and checked to see if anyone was injured. Our Major reported to our CO (Commanding Officer) that the mission was successful and all the troops have returned safely.
While returning, we covered 3-3.5 kms in 4.5-5 hours. It was during the day and we were being fired upon heavily as well. So, our aim was to reach the over-head cover as soon as possible.