Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he gave the Indian Air Force the green signal to proceed with its airstrike on a target in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26 despite bad weather because “the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars”.
In an interview to News Nation on Saturday, Modi said that he used his “raw wisdom” to dispel the doubts of defence experts who planned mission. “I am surprised that the country’s pundits who abuse me never figured this out,” he said.
However, as many experts have noted on social media, Modi’s observation has no scientific basis. Radar technology uses radio waves to detect objects that may be obscured by fog so the clouds over region on Balakot would not have given Indian planes any advantage.
Though the Twitter accounts of the BJP’s India and Gujarat units shared the clip of the News Nation interview in which Modi makes these claims, these were deleted soon after.
The airstrike – which the Indian government described as a “non-military preemptive action” – was conducted 12 days after a terror attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir killed 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force. The Jaish-e-Mohammed group, whose leaders are based in Pakistan, had claimed responsibility.
India claimed that the strike resulted in the deaths of “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis”.
Pakistan, however, said the India’s bombs only hit a few trees near it. International journalists and experts have also refuted India’s claims, although Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have doggedly used the Balakot air strikes in the campaign for the general elections.
On Saturday, Modi’s account of the advice he had given defence experts about the cross-border airstrike, which led to fears of war between India and Pakistan, was met with jibes and jokes on Twitter.
Someone was reminded of the 2001 Bollywood film, Lagaan, where a villager in pre-Independence India searches for clouds after months of drought.
Some users took a dig at both Modi’s claims and the escape of defaulting businessmen Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi from India during BJP rule.
Criticism came from Communist Party of India (Marxist) members, Sitaram Yechury and Mohammed Salim.
Other users noted the irresponsibility of Modi’s comments.