The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena said “there should be a surgical strike without tom tomming about it” in retaliation to the killing of five Indian security forces personnel in a gunfight with militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Handwara on Sunday, PTI reported.

“Let there be a surgical strike without tom tomming about it to avenge the martyrdom of the five jawans. It is not a good sign that five of our jawans are killed in one go,” an editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna read on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police launched a joint operation based on the intelligence input that terrorists were taking the civilian inmates of a house in Changimulla, Handwara of Kupwara district hostage. During the gunfight an Army colonel, a major, two jawans and a police sub-inspector were killed. They were identified as Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj, Sub Inspector Sageer Ahmad Qazi, Lance Naik Dinesh and Naik Rajesh.

The gunfight took place on the same day the Indian Air Force and Navy helicopters showered flower petals on hospitals across India treating coronavirus patients. The Indian Air Force planes conducted flypasts as a gesture of gratitude to doctors, nurses and other workers on the frontline fighting the pandemic.

The Shiv Sena said while the fight against coronavirus continues, Kashmir cannot be ignored. “The land of Kashmir is soaked with the blood of Colonel Sharma and other brave soldiers at a time when the Indian Army showered flowers on Covid-19 warriors. This is not a good picture.” It added, “Somebody should shower petals on the relatives of these martyrs also. Play bands, light up lamps, candles to salute them too.”

The party said that the country has forgotten the “Kashmir war” while fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but Pakistan has not forgotten it. “Terrorist attacks along the Kashmir border have increased during this time,” it said. Our jawans were getting killed on our own land at a time when there is a “strong and quite patriotic” government at the Centre, it added.

The Shiv Sena said there has been a lockdown in Kashmir since Article 370 was scrapped last year, but the “infiltrators carried out attacks during the lockdown”. While admitting that Article 370 was scrapped because of “strong intentions” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the party said the killings of Indian soldiers continued.

On September 29, 2016, Indian Army’s then Director General of Military Operations Ranbir Singh that the Army had carried out “surgical strikes on terror launchpads” across the Line of Control the previous night. Singh had said that the action was taken after receiving information about infiltrators planning to cross the LoC. The Congress had accused the Narendra Modi-led government and the Bharatiya Janata Party of using the armed forces and the 2016 surgical strikes for political gains.