India warns of ‘heavy price’

India warns of ‘heavy price’

Security forces to choose time, nature of reply: Modi

Without naming Pakistan, he told a public meeting that the attack was an outcome of the neighbouring country's desperation. PTI photo.

Taking Pakistan head-on after the Pulwama terror attack which killed at least 49 CRPF jawans on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday gave broad indications that a retribution will follow. He also declared that security forces have been given “complete freedom” to ensure that those who carried out the attack and supported it “pay a heavy price”.

Some of the immediate announcements that the government made after Modi chaired the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting were: Taking away the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status from Pakistan, summoning the Pakistan envoy, vowing to work for “complete isolation” of the neighbouring country and pressing with the international community for early adoption at the United Nations of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, pending since 1986.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, along with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, told media about the decisions in an unusual briefing after the CCS meeting.

The worst ever attack on security forces — just months before the Lok Sabha polls and within two years of the Uri terror attack, which had triggered a much-publicised surgical strike across the Pakistan border then — could not have come at a worse time for the ruling BJP which came to power in 2014 adopting a hawkish stance on Pakistan and advocating a muscular policy on Kashmir.

All-party meeting

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh, upon his return from Jammu and Kashmir, will hold an all-party meeting on Saturday and apprise party leaders of the security scenario emerging after Pulwama incident.

The Modi government was quick to put Pakistan on notice, saying “our neigbouring country is forgetting this is an India with a new policy and new practice”.

“I know there is deep anger... your blood boils at what has happened. At this moment, there are expectations and feelings of a strong response which is quite natural. The nation will counter such attacks strongly. We have given full freedom to the security forces about when and what they are required to do. We have full faith in the bravery and valour of our security forces,” Prime Minister Narendra Modisaid minutes after he chaired the key CCS meet. “I want to tell the terror outfits and those aiding and abetting them that they have made a very big mistake. They will have to pay a very heavy price for their actions.”

The national capital also saw protests outside the Pakistan embassy.

Sensing the mood, the Congress, which had gone hammer and tongs against the government on Thursday, mellowed on Friday and expressed solidarity with the government, while Modi himself flagged the “very sensitive and emotional moment” and urged those criticising the government to speak in one voice and rise above politics.

BJP veteran L K Advani called the terror strike “an attack on India and a crime against humanity” and noted that the entire nation should stand united in firm support of “whatever way the Government of India decides to respond to this attack”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on his return from J&K, will hold an all-party meeting on Saturday and apprise party leaders of the security scenario emerging after Pulwama incident.

While Jaitley categorically said that India has “incontrovertible evidence of Pakistan having a direct hand in the terror attack”, Modi said that if Pakistan thinks it can demoralise India with its dastardly acts and nefarious designs, it should stop daydreaming to destabilise India and must know that any such attempt is destined to fail and will be foiled.

Protesters raise slogans and burn tyres during a demonstration against the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu on Friday. (PTI Photo)

Clamour grows for teaching Pak a ‘lesson’

Calls for teaching Pakistan a lesson grew from the backyard of BJP after the deadly terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir left 49 CRPF personnel dead.

As mortal remains of the slain jawans were brought to the national capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the Palam airport to pay their tributes to the martyred. There was a wreath laying ceremony. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Informtion and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, chiefs of Army, Air Force and Navy also paid their last respects.

BJP chief Amit Shah cancelled his two scheduled rallies in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi postponed his rally in Itarasi in Madhya Pradesh. BJP cancelled all political programmes on Friday. A two-day BJP OBC Morcha national convention was also put off.

Though BJP spokespersons went silent, possibly after instruction from party leadership not to incite passions, the call for action against Pakistan came from many quarters in the saffron Parivar itself.

Free hand

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “a befitting reply will be given to the perpetrators of the heinous attack and their patrons…security forces have been given permission to choose the timing, place and nature of their response to the Pulwama terror attack”, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Pakistan will get a lesson”.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said the government will give a befitting reply to the terrorists responsible and “eliminate” them.

VHP’s international working president Alok Kumar, who led a protest march in the national capital, expressed confidence that the government would respond  "resolutely, firmly and effectively and demanded that terrorist bases in Pakistan and Pak Occupied Kashmir must be destroyed".

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu accused Pakistan of “aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorist groups” and asserted that this attempt to destabilise and impede out progress “can no longer be tolerated”.

Protests were also held in different parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s home turf Gorakhpur in which the effigy of Pakistan premier Imran Khan was burnt and action sought against Pakistan.

AAP backs

BJP’s arch-rival in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Delhi government and people of Delhi are fully with the Central government at this hour and we support whatever action the government and our armed forces deem fit.”

The government will be looking forward to this unitary voice tomorrow when Home Minister Rajnath Singh will address leaders of parties on the incident.