14th February has been etched in the memory of India as a sad day, when 40 brave CRPF jawans were martyred in a fidayeen terror attack orchestrated by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, carried out by its terrorist in the Kashmir valley who had joined the terror ranks a year earlier. On February 14, 2019, a convoy of 78 vehicles transporting more than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel from Jammu to Srinagar was travelling on National Highway 44. At Lethpora near Awantipora, a bus carrying security personnel was rammed by a car carrying explosives in the afternoon. The cowardly attack led to the death of 40 CRPF jawans.
The Pulwama terror attack is bound to be remembered as one of the most saddening events in the glorious history of India’s Armed and Paramilitary forces. The terror attack also had a wider geopolitical implication. In fact, it has changed the sub-continent forever. The terror attack orchestrated by Pakistan-sponsored Jaish-e-Mohammed had sent shockwaves across the country and there was one common sentiment prevalent all around – that of avenging the sacrifice of the 40 CRPF soldiers.
The wounds are still fresh in the nation’s memory. The Pulwama attack was one of the deadliest attacks carried out in Kashmir. It horrified Indians just how one maniacal and radical man could end the lives of 40 patriotic soldiers in one go, while severely injuring numerous others. If a moving convoy of paramilitary forces could be blown up with one explosives-laden vehicle, how difficult was it for such terrorists to end the lives of ordinary Indians? The nation demanded justice, and it demanded that the 40 CRPF jawans be immediately avenged.
Amidst calls for avenging the sacrifice of the soldiers, India carried out airstrikes deep into Pakistani territory on February 26, exactly 12 days after the dastardly attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama. The IAF bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed Madrasas based in Balakot of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Indian Air Force dropped around 1000 kilograms of bombs on the Jaish-e-Mohammed camps in the wee hours of February 26, 2019.
IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets, which carried out the Balakot airstrike, had dropped Spice-2000 precision bombs with “penetrative warheads”. These bombs pierced the roofs of the intended targets and exploded inside the buildings.
The Balakot airstrikes were different, and more resounding than the 2016 Surgical Strikes which India carried out in response to the Uri terror attack. India made it clear that it reserves the right to transgress the International Border and not just the Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan now does not have the option of pulling back its terrorists from the LoC into the regular Pakistani territory after a misadventure on Indian soil.
The Pulwama terror attack was a watershed moment for Pakistan. It suddenly regretted attacking Indians on Indian soil. It knew it had made a blunder, and that the response would be jaw-breaking. It indeed was. Pakistan, by and large, has behaved itself ever since. There have been isolated attempts at planting IEDs in the valley, surely, but they have all been foiled. Pakistan wants to keep tensions in Kashmir simmering, but seems to have realised that if anything is traced back to it, it will be hammered hard.
Today, India remembers the bravehearts from the CRPF who lost their precious lives to a mad and medieval ideology. Their sacrifice was not in vain. It changed the dynamics for Pakistan drastically. India made its stance clear – terror strikes are now intolerable, and the costs for Pakistan will far outweigh any gains it hopes to make by orchestrating such attacks.