Congress leader and former Union Minister Manish Tewari on Monday accused Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah of using Indian Air Force’s cross-border air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad’s terror camp for political gain. Tewari’s statement came a day after Shah claimed that more than 250 terrorists were killed in the operation.
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. Multiple media reports, quoting unidentified officials, had pegged the number of casualties of the February 26 operation 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.
“AVM [Air Vice Marshall] RGK Kapoor said ‘it would be premature to say that what is the number of casualties that we have been able to inflict on those camps and what is the number of deaths,’ but Amit Shah says over 250 terrorists killed in airstrike,” Tewari said on Twitter. “Is this not milking Air Strikes for Politics????”
Addressing an event in Ahmedabad on Sunday, Shah had said: “After the Pulwama attack, everyone thought surgical strike can’t be done this time, now what will happen? 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.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader Kapil Sibal asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he was “guilty of politicising terror”. He pointed out that foreign media reports had said there was no proof that terrorists were killed in Pakistan’s Balakot.
Former Union minister P Chidambaram also noted that IAF Vice Air Marshall had declined to comment on the casualties, while the Ministry of External Affairs had said there were no civilian or military casualties. “So, who put out the number of casualties as 300-350?” he tweeted.
In another tweet, he wrote: “As a proud citizen I am prepared to believe my government. But if we want the world to believe, government must make the effort, not indulge in Opposition-bashing.”