Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the security forces have been given a free hand in the wake of the Pulwama attack in which at least 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force lost their lives, ANI reported. Modi said the government will give a strong reply to the perpetrators.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the terror attack.

“The forces behind this act of terrorism and those responsible for it will be definitely be punished,” he said at the inauguration of the Vande Bharat Express in New Delhi. “I thank all the nations who have supported us and condemned this incident in the strongest of terms. A strong reply will be given to this attack.”

Modi said those responsible for the attack had made a huge mistake. “If our neighbour, which is totally isolated in the world, thinks it can destabilise India through its tactics and conspiracies, then it is making a big mistake,” he said, referring to Pakistan.

Modi offered tributes to the jawans who had sacrificed their lives. “I understand the anger the people of India are feeling,” he added. “The government has given full freedom to the security forces to act as they see fit.”

The prime minister said he is sure that nationalist-minded people will provide correct information to police and security forces, so that terrorism can be defeated. “I want to tell terrorist organisations and their backers that they have committed a very grave mistake,” he said. “They will pay a heavy price for it.”

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier announced that the government was withdrawing the “Most Favoured Nation” status accorded to Pakistan, which has denied any involvement in the attack.