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9/11 attack derailed Indian army’s operation to capture Pakistani posts along LoC: Book

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Srinagar, Jan 21: Two former Indian army generals have claimed that if the attack on World Trade Centre in 2001 (9/11) hadn’t happened, the Indian Army would have carried out its largest operation to “end infiltration” by capturing at least 25 selected Pakistani posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in September 2001.

In the book, titled ‘Line on Fire: Ceasefire Violations and India-Pakistan Escalation Dynamics’, the commanders revealed that the operation, dubbed ‘Operation Kabaddi’, would have been on a scale far larger than the “land-grab” attempted by Pakistan, which led to the Kargil war in 1999, as well as the surgical strikes launched by India in 2016.

“The objective (of Operation Kabaddi) was to change the geography of the LoC with access to tactical points there, which would then help them (the Army) tackle the infiltration of militants by the Pakistani side,” the author of the book Jawaharlal Nehru University Professor Happymon Jacob was quoted as saying by ‘The Hindu’.

“When compared to what the Pakistanis did in Kargil, that was an opportunistic takeover of land, and winter-vacated posts, where Gen. Musharraf tried to take advantage of an opportunity -- but it was a small tactical operation that went out of control,” ‘The Hindu’ quoted Jacob as saying.

Jacob said the “surgical strikes carried out in 2016” involved no casualties of Pakistani military personnel, and involved no land grab. “That is business as usual on the LoC and happens all the time,” he added.

Quoting two officers involved in the planning of the operation — Lt. Gen. Rustom K. Nanavatty, (Northern Army Commander, 2001-2003), and Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC in C) of the Army’s Northern Command and Central Command 2006-2008) — the book says operational details were discussed at a June 2001 meeting held at the office of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) in New Delhi.

The meeting was chaired by then Indian Army Chief Gen. Sundararajan Padmanabhan.

‘The Hindu’ reported that it contacted Gen. Padmanabhan, but he declined comment.

In the book, too, he has declined comment citing a poor memory of the period in question, the newes report said.

“The plan involved capturing 25 to 30 Pakistani army posts from the Batalik sector in the Ladakh area of J&K right down to Chamb-Jaurian in the Jammu sector, with around one or two posts assigned for capture per brigade,” the report said.

The posts were to be overrun in a surprise operation in “multiple phases”, the book reveals, but the operation was to be completed in a limited time, so as not to lead to a full-scale war, it said.

Eventually, the units were prepared for Operation Kabaddi on September 01, 2001, but the order to proceed was never given because in the wake of changed geopolitical situation after the 9/11 attacks, it would have been considered “taking advantage of a tragedy” and “viewed unfavourably by the international community”, Jacob wrote.

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