"The special forces of the Army carried out an attack across the LoC (Line Of Control) between India and Pakistan on the night of September 28/29 causing significant casualties to terrorists and those providing support to them. There were no casualties from the Indian side."
That was the communication by the Director General Of Military Operations, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, through a terse and brief statement. It was a somber announcement devoid of any cockiness or overt bravado, befitting the occasion. In the wake of that, the public mood was upbeat. Politicians cutting across party lines spoke in one voice commending the Prime Minister and lauding the army. The news cheered the public, the mood was upbeat and there was appreciation that the government showed resolve and retaliated swiftly against Pakistan, which facilitated and abetted terrorism by training and funding jihadis and offering them a safe hideout in their country. All these years they were tired of listening to the Home Minister and Prime Minister offering the usual platitudes routinely after every terror attack - "The government will not tolerate terror attacks any more...The sinister designs of the enemy will be foiled, and so forth..." - till they returned to their politicking as usual.
But soon the the mood changed. Many queered the pitch of the ruling party that went overboard with its gloating over the successful operation. Some senior colleagues of the Prime Minister in the government, functionaries in the ruling party and zealots from affiliated outfits made buffoons of themselves by indecorous braggadocio. That gave an opening to the opposition political parties to jump in and fire salvos. They couldn't stomach the ruling party taking political advantage of the army's successful operation exclusively and arrogating to the PM all the credit and indirectly denigrating the previous government. Provoked by the bragging of the ruling party, the opposition over-reacted, lost all restraint, and shamelessly questioned the veracity of the claims of a "surgical strike", totally oblivious or uncaring that they were hurting the sense of pride of the army and sentiments of our brave soldiers.
While Mr Modi himself as Prime Minister was reticent and dignified, a few in his cabinet and many in his party were beating their chests with boastful cries smacking of crass jingoism. Some strutted about the stage, comparing themselves to Hanuman. There was also the description of the strike as the bite of a scorpion that has stunned Pakistan into silence; there was painting of various similes and metaphors from our epics, forgetting that the brave always show grace and magnanimity in victory. The opposition parties were petty, undignified and many stooped to low levels, doubting if the attacks ever took place. Some called India's a fake claim and charged that it was all political theatre for electoral gains by the ruling party with an eye on the UP elections. In their eagerness to score political points over the ruling party, the opposition threw caution and decorum to the wind, and played into the hands of the Pakistani government and media, and lost all sense of proportion.
So where are we now? It has become free-for-all gutter politics between the ruling party and a few opposition parties. The Prime Minister stepped in to rein in the brigade which was undoing all his good work. But by then, the damage had been done.
Lt General Ranbir Singh speaking about the surgical strikes conducted by Indian Army across the LoC
The Army, one of the finest forces in the world, professional and apolitical, kept itself away from offering any reaction to the sound bites, but the reactions from veterans was bitter and angry about politicians not being united in matters of national security. They said we're making a laughing stock of ourselves in front of the world and this has now become a big media circus.
What most of the ruling party politicians and those in the opposition do not know is that the border is close to 1,500 kilometres in length over some of the most inhospitable mountain terrain in the world with maximum temperatures, even in summer, in the high altitudes touching minus ten degrees Celsius and dropping in winter to minus 40 to 50 degrees. Just living in such places, let alone fighting a war, is a matter of life and death. And many die a cold, cruel and inhuman death in those frozen and forbidding heights, even in peace time. Those who serve in those far-flung outposts live a harsh life away from their wives and children with bare necessities - cut off from all civilization enveloped in a white blanket of snow full of blizzards and avalanches, surviving on tinned food with rarefied air lacking in oxygen, no greenery or fresh running water, while dealing with high-altitude sickness, frostbite and depression.
In such a terrain, over such a vast desolate space, there will continue to be infiltration. It is humanly impossible to ever stop it completely. The Army has to strengthen its defences and intelligence-gathering abilities with support from other agencies and be on constant vigil against cross-border terrorism. It has to wear out the Pakistani army and instill a sense of fear in jihadis that they have zero chance of surviving infiltration into India to launch a terrorist attack. And the government must now focus on continually bolstering our conventional warfare capability. India must hit Pakistan back hard as was done a forthright ago - the nuclear capability of both countries notwithstanding. That will always remain a deterrent.
Unlike the many earlier routine counter attacks during earlier governments, the Army carried out a bold and flawless operation after careful planning through excellent intelligence back up and stunned the Pakistani government, its army and the jihadis by taking them by surprise. Let us salute them for that and be grateful.
So don't be ludicrous and ask for video footage. Stop beating your chest. Be dignified. And never cast aspersions on the army's act of courage and sacrifice and bring ignominy on yourself and the nation. (Captain GR Gopinath founded Air Deccan and is considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector. He quit Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in May 2014, five months after joining it.)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.