New Delhi: India on Friday turned up the heat on the so-called non-state actors in Pakistan, promising to aggressively strike back at them in response to the Pulwama terror attack that killed at least 40 CRPF jawans in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Top officials hinted at a “brutal strikeback" against the non-state actors—a reference to terror outfits that owe no allegiance to any particular country or government. The terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which has its headquarters in Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

However, whether or not India will carry out a surgical strike against Pakistan’s terror launchpads remained unclear. Some experts said a surgical strike such as the one in September 2016, following a terror assault in Uri, could have huge ramifications.

“If India conducts a surgical strike, Pakistan will hit back brutally. The last time Pakistan denied any such strike and left it at that. This time, they will not be quiet and will inflict great damage in return," said Lt. Gen (retd.) H.S. Panag, a defence expert.

Meanwhile, home minister Rajnath Singh, reviewing the situation in Srinagar on Friday, said that “civilian movement will be stopped when a large convoy of security forces passes through an area".

According to a person familiar with the development, the Pulwama terror attack revealed a colossal intelligence lapse.

First, when Adil Ahmad Dar—the JeM suicide bomber—began his groundwork a year ago, his activities raised an alarm among intelligence units in the valley.

Second, there’s the question of troop movement. Thursday’s attack targeted a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying more than 2,500 CRPF personnel going from Jammu to Srinagar. Officials said it was “foolhardy" to transport troops “in bulk in a semi-war zone".

“Units change and convoys are on the move all the time. But we had adequately warned the forces to stagger the troop movement because Jaish was planning a strike," the person quoted above said. 

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