IAF Chief says Pak mission achieved, Force don’t count toll, Cong seeks proof, BJP flys opp canards
An all-out war has broken out over the casualty figure of the February 26 air raid on Balakot in Pakistan with two top Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Kapil Sibal seeking proof of Indian Air Force’s strike destroying the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Pakistan.
They accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of politicising terror. Also, the Congress asked the PM to clear the doubt after one of the Union Ministers denied TV reports that 300 terrorists were killed in the air strike.
Reacting to the Opposition’s charge, the BJP accused the Congress of “misleading” the country by its “fake and fabricated” narratives.
While Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Monday asserted the Indian fighter planes hit the desired target but it is not their job to count the dead.
“If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target. The Indian Air Force does not count the number of dead and the casualty figure of the air strike. Death toll depends on the number of people present at the target,” said the Air Chief Marshal while addressing a Press conference at Coimbatore after attending a function in which two units of the IAF were honoured with the President’s Colours by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Dhanoa said, “If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target. Why would he (Pakistan PM) have responded if we dropped bombs in the jungles… The target was hit, it has been clearly amplified by the Foreign Secretary in his statement.”
This was the first official reaction of the Air Chief after the Balakot operation which triggered a war of words between the Government and the Opposition.
When his attention was drawn to some reports that stated that the bombs were dropped away from the target, Dhanoa said, “Our report says otherwise.”
He also set at rest all doubts about the denial of Pakistan that they lost F-16 aircraft. India has in its possession pieces of the AMRAAM missile. “Obviously, I think they have lost F-16 aircraft in that combat. So, obviously, they have been using that aircraft against us,” he added.
The Air chief also revealed that the first Rafale jet would join the IAF fleet in September 2019.
Meanwhile, holding the Government guilty of politicising terror, Sibal tweeted, “Modi ji must answer as the international media like New York Times, Washington Post, London-based Jane Information group, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and Reuters are reporting that there is no proof of militant losses at Balakot in Pakistan.”
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh too questioned the air strike in Pakistan and demanded proof.
The Congress reactions came in the wake of Union Minister SS Ahluwalia’s statement that neither Modi nor any Government spokesperson had given any figure on the casualty of air strikes. “Rather, the Indian media and social media users were circulating an unconfirmed figure of terrorists killed,” he said.
“Modi ji, Your Central Minister is denying TV news that the Prime Minister ever confirmed the killing of 300 terrorists in IAF air strikes in Pakistan. Ïs it true? If not, the PM should tell the truth to the country,” Sibal said on Twitter.
Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala also put out a news report about Ahluwalia in this regard.
Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said, “300 terrorist dead, Yes or No? What was the purpose then? Were you uprooting terrorist or trees? Was it an election gimmick? Deceit possesses our land in guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Stop politicising the Army, it is as sacred as the State.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too demanded evidence of the pre-emptive strike on JeM training camps in Pakistan by the IAF. She also said the Opposition parties want to know the details of the air strike IAF on Pakistan.
Taking a dig at the Opposition, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Congress and its allies are “crying” while terrorists and their sponsors are being hit.
“Is this a coincidence or a partnership? It is unfortunate when the entire country is speaking in one voice to salute our armed forces’ valour, the Congress and its allies are raising such questions,” he said.
Naqvi accused the Congress and its allies of “irresponsible behaviour”, saying these comments show their mindset on a sensitive issue like national security.
“The country no longer expect the Congress and its allies to welcome security forces’ action to end terrorism but they should at least not mislead the nation and insult Armed forces with fake and fabricated stories,” he said.
Tuesday, 05 March 2019 | PNS | Chennai
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