Terrorist attack on Sunjwan military camp

February 19, 2018 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army


On February 10, 2018, the army camp at Sunjwan in Jammu was attacked by JeM terrorists in early hours of the morning. Sneaking in, the terrorists entered family quarters of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and firing began at 5 AM. The encounter continued over three days resulting in the death of five army personnel including two JCOs, and seven injured including civilians. Three terrorists were killed. This is not the first time an Army security forces camp has been infiltrated. It is a question of taking the initiative. Besides when you impose excessive caution on opening fire and start filing cases against security forces for doing so, that motivates them further. There is no need to get overly impressed by these terrorists. They are rats who have been pumped with narcotics from both ends and so are in artificial state of fearlessness like an inebriated chipmunk. That is why they have no compunctions about entering family quarters and massacring women and children. And this has not happened first time. Remember terrorists entering family quarters of the Army camp at Kaluchak some years back? Then in 2002, there was also a terrorist attack on a bus some 10 km from Kaluchak killing 34 people including 22 Army men and their families (women and children).

The response by the Indian state was the same old - Parkinson’s. The attack in Sunjuwan was perhaps timed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Palestine, UAE and Oman, portraying India as a state that ‘absorbs’ another terrorist attack, while Pakistan smiles and plans the next one? The Defence Minister held a press conference to say that Pakistan will pay for this dastardly attack, also pointing out the presence of Rohingya Muslims adjacent to the Sunjwan Army Camp. Tit is well known that during the UPA II regime some 4000 Rohingya’s were colonized in Jammu despite Article 370 under garb of UNHCR. Today in Jammu region there are 734 Rohingyas settled near police lines in Channi Himmat, 206 near Army station in Sunjwan (which was attacked), 40 near HQ 16 Corps at Nagrota, while graveyards are also being used to settle them. But even NDA II not moved them out to a refugee camp outside J&K. The million dollar question is where do we go from here?

  • First, the most difficult part is for policy makers to acknowledge that fire assaults and odd surgical strike cannot make the Pakistan army to see sense.
  • Second, those are rooting for talks with Pakistan are paid agents. Besides, NSA-level talks are continuing, however, futile any talks with Pakistan may be.
  • Third, there is no alternative to India developing coherent deterrent against unconventional threats, mere diplomacy having failed miserably and threats having magnified. Our Special Forces potential must be optimized and be central in responding to asymmetric threats. This is not relevant to Pakistan alone, but all our areas of strategic interests.
  • Fourth, the porosity of the LoC is not one way. Such incidents must be ‘quietly’ replied ‘with interest’ in the same coin, raising levels till the message goes home. Let the military handle this ‘without’ political interference and unwarranted fanfare;
  • Fifth, a dirty war must have commensurate response. Respond to deniability with deniability. If Pakistani proxies burnt our men at Uri, why should we shy away from using phosphorous, flame and napalm?
  • Sixth, when Pakistan denies these terrorists belong to them and our political parties are united in belief that terrorism has no religion, why are we not publicly cremating terrorists? The bottom-line is that the hybrid war must be carried ‘inside’ enemy territory, without which we will continue to remain at the receiving end.

We need to control the fault-lines of the enemy. Cross-border artillery firing is no deterrence and we are not fooling a determined enemy. Afghanistan is heavily affected by Pakistani terrorism and even Iran to some extent. Pakistan is geographically enveloped by India, Afghanistan and Iran. These three countries must conjointly plan to deal with Pakistan diplomatically, economically, militarily including sub-conventionally and through information operations - in conjunction with friendly countries that genuinely want Pakistan cut to size. We have to put in place a well thought strategy to deal with the enemy within to include selective surgery against heads of the hydra within J&K (not terrorists alone) for driving the right signal home. Abovementioned treatment for the anti-national elements in the rest of India including Lutyen’s Delhi is also required Let us be clear that the enemy has infiltrated most of the country’s organs including intelligence agencies. China and Pakistan are pouring in crores of rupees for buying loyalties. The Sunjwan attack was the umpteenth attack by Pakistan. Improving economy should not blinker our eyes to the fact that the world is watching us.