Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pledged to punish those behind the despicable attack at the garrison town of Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that drew condemnation from across the political spectrum.
The pre-dawn attack killed 17 soldiers, many of them in the fire started by the militants.
“We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” Modi tweeted on the attack.
Modi’s promise to punish the perpetrators came hours after the four militants were killed and could indicate a hardening of stance by New Delhi.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi too joined Modi to condemn the attack, and expressed hope that not only the perpetrators, but “the forces behind them” be severely dealt with and brought to book.
She called the “cowardly attack” as a “deplorable affront on our national conscience”.
Neither the PM nor Gandhi have named Pakistan, for now.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury did, asking Pakistan stop aiding and abetting the extremist forces. “Such acts only compound the situation further... are a big impediment to the peace process in the region,” the CPM said.
But the party also hit out at the Modi government for its failure to stop the continuing infiltration of militants despite deployment of a large number of security personnel.
“The govt’s failure to prevent terror attacks, and inability to resolve the ongoing crisis is taking its toll: precious lives lost,” Yechury added in a tweet.
Former home minister P Chidambaram expressed shock and distress at the terror attack in Uri. “Salute the jawans. The government must mobilise all resources, manpower and material to strengthen border defence to prevent infiltration of terrorists,” he said.
In his tweets, Modi said he saluted the soldiers who were martyred in the attack and said their service to the nation will always be remembered.
The Prime Minister also said defence minister Manohar Parrikar would go to J-K to take stock of the situation. Home minister Rajnath Singh cancelled his visit to Russia and the US and reviewed the situation in Delhi.
“It is a proxy war. A country that is Pakistan is focusing on how to disturb Jammu and Kashmir,” Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh said.
The attack on the military camp in Jammu and Kashmir is “a serious security lapse”, former defence minister AK Antony said.
“This incident comes close on the heels of what happened in Pathankot. At both these places militants managed to enter the military camps and this is a huge security lapse,” Antony told the media. “The Kashmir issue is drifting and reaching dangerous propositions. All this is happening with the knowledge of Pakistan.”
Former soldiers and defence experts too unanimously called for a tough action against Pakistan, whom they blamed for the terrorist attack.
“It is a clear attack on India by Pakistan. We can no longer afford to just not do anything. The Indian response should be tough...the retribution should be quick and tough,” Lt. Gen. (retd) Raj Kadyan said.
Major (retd) Gaurav Arya, who has expertise in Jammu and Kashmir security situation, echoed the sentiments.
“Unless we understand that the problem in Jammu and Kashmir is not a problem just there, but it is being artificially manufactured in the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi, we would not be able to respond,” he said.
“The solution to the problem lies across the border, not here,” Kadyan said.
Here’s what they said on Twitter:
We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 18, 2016
Strongly condemn the militant attack on Army base in Uri. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the bravehearts martyred in the attack— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) September 18, 2016
There are definite and conclusive indications that the perpetrators of Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 18, 2016
Terrible news from Uri, 17 soldiers killed & many injured. May their souls rest in peace. Prayers for their families as also for the injured— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) September 18, 2016
The Government must deal strongly with terrorist activities, and act fast to bring situation under control 2/2 #UriAttack— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) September 18, 2016
condemn the brutal & cowardly attack on our Jawans #UriAttack My deepest condolences to their families. It's time to unite and fight back .— Sadananda Gowda (@DVSBJP) September 18, 2016
Mourning the loss of 17 jawans in the terror attack today. Our preparedness, defences &firepower need urgent review.https://t.co/wrog11zbBf— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 18, 2016
Extremely disturbed by loss of precious lives of Indian Jawans in Uri attack.Can nation ever repay for such supreme sacrifices? @ANI_news— Dr Jitendra Singh (@DrJitendraSingh) September 18, 2016
Totally condemn #UriAttack on our brave soldiers.Thr must not be any compromise on our national security on name of peace & foreign policy.— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) September 18, 2016
Def Min or others, this is no time for VVIPs parachuting in Kashmir. Let local unit clean up & sanitise 1st. This is no photo-op #UriAttack— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) September 18, 2016
17Jawans killed in #UriAttack .Its their supreme sacrifice but for how long?Hightime to stopQuestioning&give Army freehand to destroy terror— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) September 18, 2016
Uri terror attack: prayers for families of 17 martyred soldiers. What will it take to end this madness? #UriAttack— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 18, 2016
17 jawans killed in #UriAttack. Retaliation ought to be slow, cold, long-drawn and impossible for the enemy to forget. There's no hurry— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) September 18, 2016
When Pathankot airbase attacked,Parrikar was in Goa, Ordinance factory burnt He was in Goa,Uri Army base attacked he is in Goa.Wl TV debate?— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) September 18, 2016
With inputs from agencies