will address a party workers' meeting on Friday afternoon in Odisha's Sambalpur and another in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, later in the day.
On Thursday evening, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a strongly worded statement on the terror attack. The MEA statement came in the backdrop of several Sangh Parivar
leaders, including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, demanding reprisals. There was intense pressure on social media platforms as well for the government to avenge the attack.
The attack comes less than 60-days before the Lok Sabha polls. The Uri terror attack of September 18, 2016, in which 19 soldiers were killed, was followed by a retaliatory surgical strike by the Indian forces on September 29. The BJP
had made the surgical strike a poll plank in the run-up to its campaign for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, which were held in February 2017.
The MEA said, "Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation" perpetrated the attack. The MEA said international terrorist Masood Azhar
heads the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Pakistan has given him "full freedom" to "operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity".
In a warning, the MEA said that the "Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to take all necessary measures to safeguard national
security. We are equally resolved to fight against the menace of terrorism."
Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy demanded the government sever all diplomatic relations with Pakistan and cancel the 'most favoured nation' status it has granted the neighbouring country.
chief Bhagwat termed the terror attack an act of cowardice and expected a retaliatory action. "We have tolerated a lot and are still doing so, as seen from today's incident," he said. "They will get a reply (to the attack)," Bhagwat said.
Vishva Hindu Parishad's Surendra Jain tweeted that it now was "time to blow up Pakistan and jehad".
"It should be the last nail in their coffin," Jain, the number two in the organisation, said.
Union Minister Jitender Singh questioned "those who while living in India and describing themselves as mainstream Kashmiri politicians tend to be apologetic about the terror activities sponsored from across the Indian soil".
BJP's allies, like the Shiv Sena, also raised the pitch. "This is too painful and disturbing. We pay our respects. But such attacks should not happen. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
had said such attacks won't happen again," Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said.
The armed forces should be given a free hand to give a befitting reply to Pakistan, she said. "The language of teaching a lesson to Pakistan was also used (by the BJP-led Union government)... But the efforts are falling short. Intelligence failure is obvious," she said.
The Maharashtra unit of the Congress condemned the attack, but accused the Modi government of being "incapable". "Strongly condemn the cowardly attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama... Heartfelt condolences to the families who made supreme sacrifice for our nation," state Congress president Ashok Chavan tweeted.
"Since 2014, we have lost thousands of soldiers and the incapable Modi government is only to be blamed," Chavan said.
According to a late night PTI report from Hospte in Karnataka, BJP chief Shah on Thursday expressed grief over the death of the CRPF personnel. The report stated that Shah, addressing a meeting of intellectuals, said: "An unfortunate incident has happened in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan-based terrorists attacked our security forces. We had reminded Pakistan through the surgical strikes to mend its ways but it continues doing its activities."