The Special Forces on September 28, 2016, dived deep into the enemy territory and took the Pakistan terror launch pads by surprise. However, before the attack around 11PM Pakistani forces and terrorists had started heavy fire, which wasn’t part of their routine fire. The Indian troops were not detected but the enemy was still a little scared. Normally, 2-3 rounds were fired at two or three hour intervals but that night the enemy had started firing heavily.
It felt like even they knew that something was going to happen one of the Indian soldiers present there told NewsX.
When the teams were moving at night in the stream near them, they would fire 2-3 rounds at different intervals. The enemy was scared and it was evident from their behaviour. The reason behind Pakistan firing was a psychological effect. Basically, they were scared that they will be attacked. By firing beforehand, they wanted to show they were prepared and no one can come here. They were firing to scare the Indian troops as well as to get rid of their own fears.
On September 28, 2016, around 10-11AM, the Indian troops were 200-300 meters away from the target. They held their positions and started the recce again. After the recce concluded, around 4PM the different teams were assigned different tasks.
Almost three hours before the strike, the troops halted almost 75-100 meters from the target location. The Special Forces didn’t go very close to the target, so they could identify and observe if there are any contingencies or anything different.
The enemy sentries were clearly visible to the Indian troops. The Special Forces could see the weapons that the patrolling parties were carrying on their backs. Indian troops were observing all of this. They were waiting for the opportune time to strike with all the force.
The post or the launch pad was not far from the Line of Control (LoC). In fact, Pakistan militants came to this place and launch as well.
Different teams had different visuals in front of them as they looked at the target from different directions. The security forces observed that a lot of people were walking around outside the posts.
10-12 and we separately had 10-12 (sic)….We observed the kind of clothes they were wearing…from this we could determine their strength. So the 7-8 parties were observing them from different locations and angles. We saw a lot of people walking around outside the posts. As per the layout of the target, they had several sentry posts and there were their living areas. There were targets on both the sides of the road.
One of the soldier narrated, “Two-three days prior, we noticed 8-10 cars pulling up at the target and they unloaded quite a lot of “strength” and they were lodging in structures directed toward us near the jungle.”
This incident made it clear that the location where they were staying and the teams were closely monitoring the activities at the target.
The manner in which the enemies were carrying their weapons on their backs, we thought they must have been Mujahideen or what are their ‘irregular forces’. The clothes some of them were wearing (Pathani suits etc) made the forces think they were militant groups.
“Those roaming around in tracksuits were probably Mujahids, and those in Pathani suits were probably militants. Alongwith with Mujahids, there were some regulars as well who were manning their posts. They were standing on duty and they appeared to be from the regular Army. From their activities and body language, some appeared to be Mujahids and some terrorists,” the soldier told NewsX
We saw 7-8 people in Pathani suits, who were playing cards outside and another few, around 4-5, were walking around in tracksuits. Approximately 30-40 people were in that area. There were 7-8 structures there. If we calculate 3-4 people per structure, there were approximately 30-40 people present. So, we saw a tin shed there, which was two-storey tall it was their fuel dump. Mujahids were staying in the structures right next to it and those that were on our side of the road the temporary type of structures which looked like abandoned huts there the men wearing black Pathani suits were lodged. They would talk amongst themselves and walk around, the soldier added.
“I saw a civilian at first with an AK 47 on him and he was wearing a Pathani suit he was grazing sheep and was carrying a stick in his hand. In the other hand, he had a mobile phone. That post was different from the rest and people in the other posts were sitting outside and drinking tea. At first we had seen 30-35 men during the day later, 15-16 more boys came with the commander, the VIP. They had started patrolling the entire night. They kept patrolling at our target to the entire night and kept firing heavily. They kept firing mortars too but it was our good luck that that they didn’t explode, so we escaped,” the soldier narrated.
The team commander the man of Brigadier Rank was informed about the entire situation after which the troops asked if it was feasible to fire now, to which he said no since it would mess up the entire coordination done so far because the surgical strikes was planned from other areas as well, and doing so would mess up the whole effort.
“Co-ordination, for example, was with our other teams that were striking from other areas and we had to coordinate with them…that they’ll fire at a specific time and we’ll fire at another appointed hour. If we had fired right then, then the surprise factor of the other party would’ve been lost,” the soldier emphasised.
The timing of the strike had been planned in such a way that all the targets were to be destroyed at the same time. This is the reason the Indian troops did not neutralise the VIP even though they were in a position to engage him.
Surrounding the target
The main aim of the strike party was right in front of the target, the snipers were deployed right in front where the sentry posts were. The main goal was to silence the sentry. The rocket launchers were deployed on both the sides of it. So if there was, anyone else at the post after one of them is silenced, say if another had been sleeping or tries to retaliate to destroy the post completely the teams had positioned rocket launchers as support beside the snipers.
Other than that, at the LP-OP posts, the enemy had HMG etc. to cover that too, Indian troops had dispatched multi-shot grenade launchers, and rocket launchers.
The Indian side had deployed three different teams. First was the sniper team, another for control and one of them was in our support weapon team. Support weapons and assault teams were similar; there wasn’t much difference but the snipers were kept separate at a height but everyone was in touch
The open targets were covered by the assault team with their personal weapons the targets were distributed. Everyone knew beforehand that what their target was.