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Political slugfest over casualties, damages after IAF airstrikes in Balakot continues

Dhanoa's statement is an extension of what Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale had said soon after the IAF airstrikes in Balakot

Monday March 4, 2019 11:19 PM, ummid.com News Network

IAF Airstrike in Balakot

New Delhi: The ruling and opposition parties in India on Monday continued in political slugfest over the actual damages and casualties in Balakot, Pakistan following the Indian Air Force (IAF) airstrikes even as Air Chief Marshal reiterated official stand that there is no assessment on this regard.

“IAF is not in a postilion to clarify the number of casualties. The government will clarify that. We don’t count human casualties, we count what targets we have hit or not", Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa told reporters in Coimbatore.

Dhanoa's statement is an extension of what Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale had said soon after the IAF airstrikes in Balakot.

"India's air force "struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. A large number of JeM terrorists were killed. The strike avoided civil casualties," Gokhale said hours after the IAF strike in Balakot on February 26, 2019.

Later, while addressing the media, army chiefs also declined to say how many terrorists were killed in the airstrikes. However, this did not deter BJP President Amit Shah from claiming that more than 250 terrorists were killed in the airstrikes.

“After the Uri attack, the army did a surgical strike. After the Pulwama attack, people said there could not be a surgical strike due to the high level of alertness. But on the 13th day, the Narendra Modi government carried out an air strike, and more than 250 terrorists were killed without suffering any losses,” Amit Shah said while addressing a rally in Gujarat on Sunday.

Interestingly, while Amit Shah was making this statement, Union Minister SS Ahluwalia almost termed fake all media reports that claimed 300 terrorists were killed in Indian Air Force (IAF) airstrikes in Pakistan's Balakot saying neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor BJP Amit Shah had confirmed the number of casualties.

“I’ve followed both the local and international media. I’ve listened to the prime minister as well. After the airstrikes, he had delivered a speech. Did he say that 300 people were killed? Did any BJP spokesperson confirm this? Did Amit Shah say any such thing?" Ahluwalia, Prime Minister Modi's close confidant, said at a press conference.

"By dropping the bomb at your doorstep, we are trying to send across a message that we are capable of destruction. This is what was required,” he added.

Reacting on the issue, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu wrote on Twitter, "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", he added.

Kapil Sibal, another Congress leader, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should respond to international reports claiming there were hardly any casualties in the IAF’s Balakot airstrike.

“PM must speak on reports by international media that say hardly anyone died there (in airstrike in Balakot),” news agency ANI quoted Sibal as saying. Sibal said he wanted to ask Modi that is the international media in support of Pakistan.

“When the international media speak against Pakistan, you are “elated”. But when they ask questions (about the airstrike), they are asking because they support Pak?” he asked.

On the other hand, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Amit Shah of "spreading lies" and said the BJP president took a stand contradictory to that of the armed forces.

"Amit Shah is saying that the armed forces are lying, 250 (terrorists) were killed. Amit Shah is calling the armed forces a liar. The country will not tolerate this under any circumstances,” Kejriwal wrote on Twitter.

In another tweet, the Delhi chief minister said the whole country stands with the armed forces while the BJP stands against them.

“The armed forces cannot lie but the BJP is lying. The whole country stands with the armed forces but BJP stands against them,” Kejriwal said.

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