The date 29 September has gone down in the history of the Indian Army as a day of victory and pride. Yes, it is the same day when the Indian troops went across the Line of Control (LoC) to avenge the death of 18 of India’s brave hearts during the Uri attack. This was one of the biggest strikes that had been conducted by the Indian Army. The ‘super’ operation boosted the morale of the Indian troops.
Here is an exclusive never-been-heard account of the aftermath of the surgical strike:
On 29th (September) when we came back to our location our fellow soldiers who weren’t part of the operation greeted and congratulated us. All our commanders personally came to meet us. They said they felt great and it was a proud moment. This was really great to know.
Around 2PM we reached the Indian post; they didn’t know much either as they weren’t connected to the network. They knew we had completed an operation they prepared food for us, which we ate. Around 5:30pm on the 29th (September), we marched forward from there. We were stopped again at the brigade headquarters. We felt that since we were tired we would be asked to go back to our location and relax, but we were stopped there. We felt everyone was looking at us differently. They were complimenting us on the operation. We didn’t know as much as them about the operation, in terms of the casualty numbers and the terrorist camps destroyed. Our Brigadier Sir came and congratulated everyone over the success of the mission. We still didn’t understand the gravity of the operation conducted.
On our way to the headquarters, whichever battalion we met en route, all of them were congratulating us. They were requesting us to spend the night at their locations and celebrate the victory with them. So, we were receiving warm welcomes everywhere.
We were then told that we were in the news for the surgical strike. We didn’t have a name for the operation; it was the media and the public that had named it ‘surgical strike’.
From there we returned to our location where our GoC was already awaiting our arrival. He congratulated us as well. We split around 11PM. We still didn’t know much. In the morning when we were having our breakfast and switched on TV news, that’s when we learnt this operation had assumed high proportions. It was the morning of 30th (September). What had happened 24 hours ago, we were now watching it 24 hours later.
Once we were told it was on television, we watched the entire incident being recounted live on TV; of all those details of course there were a few anomalies in terms of places and locations. But we were also surprised how the press had learnt of it so soon.
When the Indian troops returned on the Indian soil and turned on the TV they could not believe that such a big operation was successfully concluded by them.
The statement by the DGMO was a big boost for us. It was a moment of pride for us because we had accomplished our main goal which was to avenge our brothers’ martyrdom. We were happy we had done that. We felt the DGMO’s statement was essential because we felt the rest of our brothers should know their revenge had been taken. We did it for our brothers and our country. Actually, when the operation was in the planning stage, the involvement of the commanders from top to bottom and the aim and goal of the retaliation of this operation was a huge undertaking. Of course, this was a memorable and the most revengeful operation of our lives we had accomplished what we had set to do.
There were several small operations in which we had participated earlier but across the border at this level it was our first. We realised that this was a big operation based on the damage and the involvement from top to bottom.
Celebrations were special because we had already seen it on the news that we had done something huge for the country. We were thanking God as well that we had returned safely. We couldn’t say so earlier but we kept wanting to deliver a message to the families of those martyred. In Uri someone’s son was martyred, someone’s brother was martyred . We wanted to tell them all that we had avenged the deaths of the brave hearts.
After that we went for our debriefing and from there, we started our celebrations. There was a big feast set out for us. We were being greeted from many quarters. We felt good that we had done this for our country and the martyrdom of our jawans.
That day, we organised a big feast and celebrated it with the officers and soldiers from nearby battalions.
When we first finished the surgical strike, we felt we had avenged our brothers’ deaths. But if they (Pakistan) continue to act in the same manner, we aim to do the same with them again. If we get permission again, we will seek revenge.
As soon as we returned having completed the surgical strike, we felt had finally avenged our brothers. They were wronged and we took revenge. And we always felt we should continue to do so again and again so they desist from such actions in the future.
We kept with us the mobile phones of the soldiers for almost two days after the operation, so the matter could die down a little because it had blown up in the media. I didn’t want anyone’s family to get affected or someone to face any kind of disturbance in their mobile being tapped or tracked, or they face any problem later. We returned the mobile phones two days later. We provided them with official numbers through which they could contact their families. They were available to communicate.
Regarding the action on the Pakistan side, on 28 September around 2PM, when we were 200-300 metres away from the target we saw one of their villages. We observed normal activity in the village people who were working in the fields, children were studying in the school, there were teachers. There wasn’t anything odd about the village that could hinder our operation. We could have fired at them but we didn’t do so because firing at civilians is cowardice, which militants do. We are the Special Forces; we only attack those who provoke us; we don’t disturb civilians. That is why we avoided that village and launched our entire force solely on the terrorists waiting at launch pads.
Near the PoK enemy post, there is a village within 150-200 metres distance where they’ve made a few posts within the village to divert us. We still did not attack it because if we had done so it would have resulted in the death of 100-150 civilians. We never touch the local population; that is never our aim.
The day after the surgical strike, on 30th (September), we were told the Prime Minister wants to meet some of the soldiers who conducted the operation. After the operation, we got busy again with our work. Some of us who were free and were selected went to meet the Prime Minister.
Speaking on the surgical strike ex-Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, “The Indian Army had this capability, has and will have in the future as well. Nobody should live under the misconception that there can’t be another such strike in the future. Indian Army is capable of doing a bigger exercise with a higher firepower capability. I appreciate the discipline the Prime Minister keeps. He virtually took all the offensive.”