Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Sunday claimed that more than 250 terrorists were killed in last week’s cross-border air strike by the Indian Air Force, ANI reported. The strikes were carried out 12 days after the Pulwama suicide attack, in which 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed on February 14.
“After the Pulwama attack, everyone thought surgical strike can’t be done this time, now what will happen?” Shah said, referring to the “surgical strikes” carried out by the government after the attack on the Uri airbase in 2016. “At that time, Prime Minister Narenda Modi-led central government conducted an airstrike on the 13th day and killed more than 250 terrorists. Without a single [civilian] casualty.”
Multiple media reports, quoting unidentified officials, had pegged the number of casualties at over 300, and some estimated it at even 600. The Indian Air Force, however, has refused to give any number officially, and said it would be premature to give an estimate. The Air Force said the weapons had hit the intended target and caused the intended damage.
Shah said after the airstrikes, Pakistan managed to shoot down an Indian fighter jet and took into custody Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. “It is a war... a jawan was captured, but because of the Narendra Modi government’s impact, Abhinandan became the first prisoner of war to be released in such a short time,” Shah said at an event in Ahmedabad.
Early on February 26, a dozen IAF jets entered Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and targeted a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Balakot. In retaliation, Pakistan F-16s violated Indian airspace the following day, and downed a MiG-21 jet. Varthaman, who was taken into custody, was released on March 1.
Shah on Sunday claimed that Opposition parties have made a mockery of democracy by creating a new dynastic system where every leader’s son succeeds him, PTI reported. “What was wrong with the king and his kingdom? It had only one problem. Even if the king’s son was a fool, he would succeed the king,” Shah said, without naming any politician or party.
“But should someone become the prime minister just because he is my son, irrespective of whether he has any capability?” Shah inquired.
The BJP chief claimed the Modi government had worked without the politics of dynasty and this needed to continue in the future. “For the first time in 70 years, politics of caste, dynasty and appeasement has been expelled from elections,” he said. “If the country gets a proper government for 15 years, I guarantee you that we will see India become a superpower.”
Shah also criticised the Opposition for demanding evidence of cross-border air strike in Balakot, claiming those seeking proof were “helping Pakistan and emboldening it”.
Earlier on Sunday, Modi also hit out at the Opposition parties for allegedly questioning the armed forces after the air strike. The Opposition’s statements over the air strike on terror camps have made the “enemies happy”, he claimed.