‘India’s offensive on eastern border message to terrorists’

New Delhi,  (IANS) India’s offensive against terrorists along its eastern border sends a message to them, the government said on Wednesday, even as defence ministry denied that “hot pursuit” was involved in the action.

Questions were raised if India would pursue a similar policy along its Western border with Pakistan, inviting a sharp reaction from the other side.

The operation conducted by the Indian Army on Tuesday involved two attacks along the Indo-Myanmar border, with the camps being located in Myanmarese territory.

Perceived as the largest cross-border operation yet by the Army, the attack resulted in several militants being killed with no loss of life on the Indian side.

Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh denied any “hot pursuit” being involved in the operation, while Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said it was a message to all terrorists.

“We did not use hot pursuit. We contacted Burma (Myanmar) authorities before the attack,” Rao Inderjit said here.

Javadekar, speaking in Mumbai, said: “The military’s action against insurgents, with assistance from the Myanmarese government, speaks volumes about India’s resolve to fight terror. This is a lesson and a message to all the terror groups that India will not hesitate in going beyond its geographical borders to eliminate terrorists.”

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, termed it a fitting reply.

“The ilitary operation against extremist hideouts in Myanmar is a fitting reply for the ambush of Army soldiers,” Rijiju said.

“We must salute the work the army did… When something is done in national interest, we must support it and not discuss it in detail,” he added.

The Congress, however, said government must not politicise the issue.

“Indian Army has never said it has entered into Myanmar. What we would like to say that such things should never be politicised”, party spokesman Ajay Maken told reporters.

A sharp reaction, meanwhile, came from Pakistan, with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar saying India should not mistake the country for Myanmar.

“Pakistan Army is fully capable of responding to any adventurism,” said Nisar.

Army sources meanwhile said more such operations may be carried out in future based on intelligence reports.

“More such attacks may take place if there are intelligence inputs of a threat (of the kind of attack on June 4 in Manipur that claimed the lives of 18 Indian Army soldiers and injured many more). The forces are always ready for such operations,” a senior officer told IANS on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Asked if a similar approach could be used on the Western border, highly placed officials said the situation on both sides is different.

“Defence and security strategy is something that evolves after one thinks through all the consequences of action or inaction; hence any premature celebration over the Myanmar swatting of terror groups would not only be wrong, but foolish,” an official close to the security establishment told IANS.

Former Army Chief Gen. V.P. Malik said India had the capability, but such operation on the Western border along with Pakistan may result in a small-scale war.

“We do have the capability (to launch similar attack along India-Pakistan border) but it does not mean we will react in that manner. It can escalate into a limited war, we have to be prepared for all those things in term of public opinion and international opinion,” Gen. Malik said.

According to sources, elements of 21 Para (SF) of the Parachute Regiment that carried out the strike on Tuesday did not suffer any losses but caused “significant casualties” among the terrorists.

Officially, the army has not released figures for militants killed in the attack but these are estimated to be between 15 and 25.

Sources said the camps that were attacked were a few kilometers inside Myanmar border, but refused to name the exact location.

The paratroopers were flown to the target in the indigenous Dhruv advanced light helicopters.

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