All What Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag Said On 'Operation Pathankot' During Annual Army Day Press Conference

Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, During
Annual Army Day Press Conference at Manekshaw Centre
Shailesh Kumar,
New Delhi
As far as Army is concerned, it was not under anybody’s command. It was under the command of Army Commander, western command, who was controlling and monitoring the operation on my behalf. There were other agencies like Army, NSG, Air Force Garud, Int Agencies, even the police on outer side. Therefore, we were the ones, who were totally controlling the entire operation. As far as I gave three clear cut instructions, my directions to the Army commander that- First, they must ensure security of assets and all the families and foreign students and all the population, which was inside. I must tell you Air Force base had more than 10 thousand population. Secondly, I said the area of contact must be contained and strong cordon is established both inner and outer cordon to make sure that none of them escape; and third, was to carry out deliberate operations and avoid causality.

It were not 2 columns of Army instead there were 8 columns and each column has 70 people and also in addition Para special forces were also there. Therefore, NSG initially had one team but Army had 8 teams. And on ground it was the Army Brigade Commander who was
controlling the Army columns.

There was total synergy amongst all forces and Army commander Western Command himself was commanding. The time factor should be left to those Army commanders who are commanding and executing the operation. They were given full liberty to conduct the operation and we always offer. By sitting here saying that they should have done this, they have done this; they should have finished in so much so time and finished in so much time. 

Perhaps, it will not be appropriate saying all this while sitting here. Because, why the rockets were not fired inside the building, but the ground situation if you see the buildings are so close by. For the sake of thinking that rocket launcher should have fired but the building is so close that if you fire a rocket, the back will blast and in the back there is building. So if anyone who is firing will be burnt to death.  The operation began the next day when we kill four. I want to tell you that our forces have conducted the operation successfully. 

For the first day, all the causalities has happened in these fires within half an hour, 40- 45 minutes. Initially, we had our casualty otherwise for that long period the operation was conducted not even one fatal operation casualty occurred. Another chap who was from X-7 Dogras, he run after the militant, pushed him to ground, snatched his rifle and from that rifle he shot the militant. But unfortunately, there were two other militants and they fired on him.  And he lost his life. Thereafter, the militants have moved into the elephant grass, undulated terrain.  Thereafter, they took position. There that was the covered area where they taken cover but if any jawan goes there then the casuality was possible. 

As soon as this came to our knowledge we provided 7 casper vehicle from Army available there. When we get to know that the casper vehicle will not be able to go, I was in constant touch with Army Commander then I have ordered to the Army Commander to move BMPs. Three BMPs were brought.  They were used. Army’s 11 Jkrif closed in. One officer and three jawans were injured. The coordination was so good that some building were with NSG, so they provided fire cover. 

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag addressing media
during annual press conference on Army Day
Due to good coordination, three militants were killed that day. We have killed four the very first day. Rest the sanitization was going on. In that somewhere around at 11, someone fired but that was the double stories building. In that building our jawans were also deployed, who were unarmed. So when I got to know, I first of all told Army commander that remove our jawans first then take counter measures. So it takes time to safely remove the jawans. 

I would like to say that the operation was very successful and it was made a point that our should not suffer any casualty due to hurry. So time is not considered a factor but to focus that we have not suffered any casualty and succeeded the operation.  During night we has just contained them. No one had fired. Four of them were shot down.

NIA is still working as how these terrorists sneaked in. Let them do the investigations. And this is one area which NIA is working on. It would be I think premature as they are working on. It will be part of lesson learned. As far as Mazar-i-Sharif and this attack is concerned, I think all attack are of similar kind. Take any attack which takes place there are similarities in suicide attack. Therefore, to say that this is connected to that may not be both I think are individual isolated incidents that have taken place.

India is very big. Intelligence is very necessary. After getting the intelligence, we get some more time to be alert. Without intelligence, it is very difficult to know at where 2 or 4 people have sneaked in. Infiltration grid is being made very strong. Without intelligence it is very difficult to guess about the sneaking smaller groups. It is very important that all our military bases are always put on high alert. I have given orders to all Army Commander to audit their security and make it stronger. The first action is with the individual officer but once known then taking action is our job. As of now, some are thinking why NSG was used there. It is being told that we had intelligence. If we had intelligence and there were more than 10,000 civilians, families and foreign students were there. If such as large population is there and if they were able to go in an area where a hostage situation is being created then to deal with hostage situation, the best force to deal with hostage situation, the ideal force, suitable and trained force is NSG. The basic task of NSG was that if any hostage situation is created, then NSG can deal with it. The pre-emptive action taken to deal with hostage situation is the best decision.

Definitely concern is there. As far as (militants) coming from that area, we have strengthen the LC (line of Control). Then they have started addressing through the IB (International Border), Arnia, Sambha; all those 3-4 cases that took place were from that side and may be probably they will keep trying the possibility that  they attempted at one place, we strengthen that area, like for example in that area we have put our training companies. That area is of BSF, it is their responsibility. But our concern is also there. Therefore, we have put our training companies behind the BSF, And in Arnia, that is what happened, the movement we learnt some infiltration has been taken place, some input came, immediately that area training company reacted, they contained them and all four terrorists were killed. .. Lot of water bodies, rivers, nullahs are there. Probably they may have used any one of them. Now, they may have found some area through which they sneaked in. So they also keep on exploring the possibility. When we strengthen this, they find some more areas.

That area is IB, BSF is deployed there so I will not comment as it come under a different ministry. So my commenting on if that area is used for smuggling or if that area is used or not will not be appropriate.

Encroachment issues near military station do exist at number of places. We try to take up with the state Government as and when we get to know. According to notification encroachment can not happen within 100 yards. The authorities keep vigil and then they inform the state Governments by giving in writing to remove the encroachment. It is true that encroachment is there. We have have taken up the case with State Governments to remove the encroachment. We can report, can take Government’s help but can not evacuate forcefully. We are still trying. It is possible that they may make use of the encroachment. 

With regards to hon'ble Raksha Mantri’s statement, I only want to tell you that to comment on any personality’s statement or Government policy will not be appropriate. But I want to tell you this much that Indian Army is capable and ready to finish any task Government offers to Indian Army.

The Crisis Management Committee met under National Security Advisor (NSA). We were informed of the intelligence, situation available at that point of time. I passed on the information to northern and western army commander as soon as I came out. All our forces in that area were alerted. Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) were made ready. Columns were prepared. Immediately within two to two and half hour two squads of our special force Para reached in that area and within hours our columns were also reached. We have also strengthened our own formations and establishments in that area. 

But what time they came inside, before or after that NIA will tell after investigations but our columns were inside as well as outside. No one came inside after deployment of the columns.

We are dealing proxy war very well. For other options, I can just tell you that Indian Army is ready to perform any task. But these decisions are of Government not of Army. Whatever, the task Government will give, we are prepared to take it.

Motive of any suicide attack is to inflict maximum damage and to get media hype. As far as Pakistan Army’s role, the evidence which we have got, we have given. Details of evidence is being dealt by the NIA. But I have seen myself, markings on medicine, on equipment are of Pakistan. That proves that the militants came from there. As far as the role (of Pakistan Army) is concerned, the investigation, I think, is on as the evidence are given.

If such activity (terror attack) happens through smuggling, then it is a treason against the country. This has to be stopped if it happens through that route. As far as Army is concerned lessons are learnt. If any situation of this sort happens, Army goes there and take part. But we will see to lay down the procedure.

Such individual incidents can be lessened by strengthening our infiltration grid. We will try to rule out any such incidents but if such incident happens then we have to strengthen our security. With lesser casualty or without casualty we should try to shoot them down. Whenever, they come they should be aware and they also know that they will not be able to go back, they will be killed. We have given clear indication and in this operation also there is clear indication that during this operation we have not got any casualty. We will more strengthen this.

This was an important air station and in that respect the importance increases many time.

If your are indicating towards the statement of hon'ble Raksha Mantri then I will not be able to comment. There are many agencies involved. Some border in J&K BSF is involved; in Punjab again BSF is involved. If infiltration is happening from that side, then this assurance I can not give because as Army chief, we have to learn lessons and we have to reduce the incidents and we have to improve our grid. In J&K, we have made the infiltration grid very strong. However, if one or two or a smaller group manage to enter then we send it to third tier and if they cross that even then we kill them in hinterland operation. So first we should not let them in. If they manage then we should kill them in second or third tier. Despite this some stray incident happens then we have to be ready that we should not face much casualty. We have to contain them and finish them.

This issue (Majar-i-Sharif and Pathankot attack are linked) is in the diplomatic level and they are diplomatic and political decision, the Government has to decide.

Government has given evidence and the Government has said that we have to wait and see... it will not be correct to comment on any of this.

The coordination of Indian Army with State Police are excellent. I must say that operations are done in coordination and in synergy and they are part of that. For example, maximum operations are still being done in J&K. And in J&K, Police and Army there is excellent cooperation and both are working together. Since, I myself have seen in J&K and same in NE, excellent coordination. In other parts also, in Pathankot also there was a good coordination amongst all agencies.

Whatever DGMO (During Manipur Op) said, I have given him to say. If there would be need then again I will ask DGMO to speak.

I have a straight forward answer that Indian Army possesses the capability to undertake any task that we are assigned to.

With regards to proxy war, the terror infrastructure, earlier they had 42 camps, known camps to us. But ones which are now active as per our knowledge there are 17 camps active. At least 17 camps as of now are active so the terror infrastructure is definitely active there. I think they have closed down some of the camps when International pressure mounted on them around the time when I was the divisional commander in J&K those days we have that information.

This will be known from NIA when the report will come that what time they have entered. Whether, they came earlier or after. Our troops, which have gone there for the 24 kilometer perimeter.. air force is also conducting an investigation. Perimeter investigation responsibility was theirs and our troops of Army column which have gone there, their basic issue was what? That is if some type of attack happens there. Definitely, we have put our soldiers outside also to make sure that after that no one enters inside in that area. 
We have sent troops that if by chance someone has entered inside then he should not be able to come outside and shot down there itself. I think this task was very much fulfilled. And the initial casualty, you may not be aware that in 24 kilometers, which part of the area they will strike. Which corner the operation will be conducted? This will be known only when the firing starts. Thereafter they were contained. After initial casualties, others were prevented. And all three objectives were achieved. Assets were protected and secured. The families and foreign students were not harmed. They were contained in that area and third was that they should be killed by a deliberate operation. They were killed. All three objectives are achieved. 
I think that it was a very well coordinated operation. Now repeating why the operation has taken so much time, you are not giving credit to those fighting there and casualty happened. Those who are fighting there, they know the ground situation very well. I too did not interfere because the person who is on ground, let him handle the operation. He knows the situation well. He should get the liberty to conduct the operation, which they got and I think it will not be appropriate to say that why this has happene. Our jawans and officers who are fighting and in-charge, they have very well done their job.

I must tell you that the officer Lt Col Niranjan in one year, he has handled 3500 or 4000 kg of explosive, there was no one better than him to handle this type of explosive. The casualty that took place immediately after that it was around the time when the darkness had set in. When I learnt about it, I was directly taking to the Army Commander by taking the input. 
I told Army commander that at night the casualty should not be handled, the three kids. It should be only in day time that casualty should be handled. It could be done. It must be done by bomb disposal squad people who are equipped to handle this. I checked up with the Army commander. And he also checked up on the ground. All procedures were followed by him. 
So whatever is laid down method, he has followed that. It is very difficult today for you and me to decide and say where things are gone wrong. Probably some booby trap which he did not expected to on the body was there and despite having followed that kind of drills he already done, unfortunately this has happened. Otherwise, I would say this officer was the most qualified officer to handle that kind of explosive.

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All What Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag Said On 'Operation Pathankot' During Annual Army Day Press Conference All What Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag Said On 'Operation Pathankot' During Annual Army Day Press Conference Reviewed by Shailesh Kumar on 11:52:00 PM Rating: 5 Theme images by Sookhee Lee. Powered by Blogger.