The fire assault began a little after 2100 hours. Exchange of small arms fire across the LoC was a daily occurrence, and once in a while things heated up to the level of limited mortar exchanges. But this was the first time since the Kargil war of 1999 that such tremendous firepower had been unleased across. The lethal barrage from the 155 mm and 105 mm guns shook the earth for miles around as thousands of tonnes of metal and explosives wreaked havoc on the makeshift shelters of terrorist camps deep across and all along the LoC. Thanks to the observation by UAVs, augmented on the ground by OPs like Dubey deployed on the LoC, the fire rained with deadly accuracy on the designated targets. As per the inputs, there were 45 identified training camps, and except for three locations which had been recently shifted, the others were pulverised with no chance of any survivors.
Gen Raghavan sat with the little group around him in the ops room watching the live feed from the UAVs. The high magnification night vision cameras picked up the images of destruction from thousands of feet above and relayed them to the large screens hundreds of kilometres away. He watched with satisfaction as the image zoomed in to reveal the burning shelters with mangled bodies strewn across at location after location.
Raghavan had spoken to Akram Shah, the Pakistani prime minister just minutes before unleashing the destructive fire assault. “Mr Prime Minister, I wanted to thank you personally for your message of condolence on the terrorist attack that I have been conveyed on your behalf.” Raghavan’s deceptive graciousness didn’t prepare the wily politician on the other side for what was coming. “I also wanted to inform you that based on our satellite and UAV surveillance, and also through monitoring of mobile and radio networks, we have located about 45 training camps across the LoC. The images and audio files are being handed over to your embassy as we speak.” Akram began to speak but Raghavan cut him off. “As we are cognisant of your government’s repeated assurance that there is no state support to terrorism of any kind from your side, I’m sure we are correct in assuming that these are purely non-state actors. We are offering you our help in eliminating these terrorists. In the next fifteen minutes we will launch fire assaults on these locations. I am personally monitoring each strike from here to ensure there are no civilian casualties, and we will provide you with detailed UAV recordings of the attacks to prove our point.”
“General I strongly suggest that you refrain from such a provocative action.” snarled Shah, having recovered his composure remarkably quickly. “Any threat to our territory would force our hand to seek reprisal with all the resources available to us.” The threat of possible use of a nuclear weapon in retaliation was unstated but implicit.
“Mr Shah, unlike my predecessors, I am a little more realistic about the authenticity of the nuclear threat you have been brandishing for such a long time.” Raghavan countered.