The Pulwama Attack
By: Adhya Pandey
On the 14th of February in 2019, when the world was celebrating the festival of love on Valentine’s Day, forty brave sons of India laid down their lives at the altar of the nation due to a heinous act of terrorism committed by Pakistan backed Islamic terrorist organisation, “Jaish-e-Mohammed”.
A convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethpora, in the district of Pulwama on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway. Although Pakistan was blamed for the attack by the Indian government and citizens, as usual, they condemned the act but denied any involvement whatsoever.
Jammu and Kashmir, for its reasons in history, has been far from a safe haven for the security forces of India. Since independence, it has been a witness to several attacks in the name of insurgency; some of which were rooted in the separatist ambitions of the locals, while others fuelled by the malicious intentions of Pakistan and terrorist organisations based in Pakistan.
The Pulwama Attack of 2019 is considered to be one of the deadliest attacks on India’s State Security Personnel since 1989. The act was unequivocally condemned by several major countries of the world like the USA, China, France, Russia, UAE, UK etc. Moreover, the USA added that it was ready to join hands with India in their counterterrorism efforts, urging Pakistan to put an end to sheltering terrorist organisations in their country.
In the aforementioned way, Pakistan denied all allegations against it and even agreed to cooperate with any investigation initiated by the US. However, soon after that, Pakistan had objections against the Indian Cricket team for wearing camouflage caps instead of the usual sky blue ones, which was a gesture to pay tribute to the soldiers martyred at Pulwama. According to them, the Indian Cricket Team was mixing politics and sports, for which they should be banned. When the matter was taken to the ICC, they clarified that the Indian team had been granted prior permission to do the same, as a part of a fundraising drive and also to pay tribute to the soldiers.
Response from India
The state funerals of the martyred soldiers were held in their respective native places with full state honours. Following the attack, India witnessed several protests, candlelight marches and nationwide. Violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir even resulted in a curfew in the state. The Indian community settled in the United Kingdom held protests in front of the Pakistan High Commission in London. A delegation of Indian doctors that was supposed to visit Lahore on the 7th of March for the 13th Association of Anaesthesiologists Congress organised by SAARC, cancelled their visit as a show of protest.
Pakistani musicians, actors and all artists were almost boycotted by the organisations in the Indian Film Industry and they even stated that strong actions would be taken against any organisation violating the rule by working alongside a Pakistani artist.
The “most favoured nation” status of Pakistan was soon revoked by India and the customs duty on all Pakistani goods imported to India was raised to 200%. The FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering) was requested by the government of India to put Pakistan on the blacklist. They put it on the “grey list” instead, with a deadline to comply with their clauses. If Pakistan would fail to comply, it would have been added to the blacklist.
On the Military Front
∙ The Balakot Airstrike
On the morning of 26th February i.e. 12 days after the Pulwama attack, Indian warplanes crossed the LoC (Line of Control) and dropped bombs in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in Pakistan. India claimed that it was a strike against a terrorist settlement in the area, and a “large number” of terrorists had been killed in the strike. However, Pakistan described the Indian warplanes to have dropped their payload in an inhabited wooded hilltop area near Balakot.
Recently, the video clip of a former Pakistani diplomat allegedly claiming that 300 terrorists were killed in the Balakot airstrike surfaced on the web. However, later it was confirmed that his statements were misinterpreted and no such killings were ever confirmed.
∙ India-Pakistan standoff
In retaliation to the Balakot airstrike, Pakistan Air Force conducted one of its own into Jammu and Kashmir, on the 27th of February 2019. Both countries confirmed that no damage was caused by Pakistan’s airstrike. But, in a fight between Indian and Pakistani jets, one of India’s MiG-21 was shot down over Pakistan, whose pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured and set free on the 1st of March. Abhinandan was received with a lot of appreciation and well wishes from Indians for his valour and strength, on his return.
On the negative side of the response, the underlying prejudice against Kashmiris in some Indians was ignited and several Kashmiri people across the country were subjected to violence, harassment and backlash following the attack. They were forced to evacuate the homes, hostels and PGs they were residing in and some colleges in Dehradun even forced a ban on any and all Kashmiri students seeking admission to their university. Former governor of Meghalaya Tathagata Roy even tweeted in support of, “banning everything Kashmiri” as a call for retaliation against the PoK.
No matter what the situation may be like, generalising and discriminating against all people of a state can never be deemed the solution. In tough times like these, it is only fair that all of us Indians come together to fight terrorism and violence, instead of perpetuating communal hatred.
Irrespective of how stubborn and rigid the enemy’s agendas may be, we must stand together in order to fight against it.
India will always fondly and respectfully remember the brave souls that she lost on the 14th of February 2019, and hopefully, every Indian citizen in their own way will ensure that their sacrifice would not go in vain.