Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged Opposition parties not to demand proof of the Indian Air Force’s strikes in Balakot on February 26. By doing so, they were making Pakistan happy, he claimed.
Modi said that while the Indian government had been silent after the air strikes, they were not asleep. “I tell the Opposition parties that my proof is the faith that 130 crore Indians have placed in me, that is my biggest proof,” he said. “Please do a favour and stop playing games that will make Pakistan happy.”
The prime minister inaugurated the extension of the Delhi Metro’s Red Line service into Ghaziabad on Friday, PTI reported. The 9.4-km-long Dilshad Garden-New Bus Adda elevated section will begin operations at 8 am on Saturday, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Executive Director for Corporate Communications Anuj Dayal said. The Rajendra Nagar station was renamed the Major Mohit Sharma Rajendra Nagar station and the New Bus Adda station will be called Shaheed Sthal, he added.
“Metro projects in Lucknow, Agra, and Ghaziabad were inaugurated, or foundation stones laid today,” Modi told the audience in Ghaziabad. “Tomorrow Noida metro’s new route will be inaugurated and yesterday Nagpur metro was also started. The Ahmedabad metro was also started this week.” The BJP said Modi launched several development projects in Ghaziabad.
“What was Ghaziabad known for during the rule of previous governments?” Modi asked. “Today, it is known for three Cs – connectivity, cleanliness and capital.”
He said that apart from the Air Force station at Hindon, Ghaziabad now also had a civilian airport. “Now, people do not need to go to New Delhi to fly to other cities.”
Opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, had asked the Centre whether the air strikes were related to the General Elections, which are expected to be held in April and May. They had asked the government to share details about the strike.
Several media reports, quoting unidentified officials, had pegged the number of casualties at over 300. Union Minister of State SS Ahluwalia refuted those media reports and claimed that the strikes were only meant as a warning. Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah, while addressing a rally in Ahmedabad, claimed more than 250 terrorists were killed in the Indian Air Force’s air strike.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday refused to provide the number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists killed in the strike. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Monday said that the Indian Air Force is not in a position to count the number of casualties in the cross-border strikes. He said the government would provide such a number.
The air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26 were carried out in response to a terrorist attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14, which killed 40 soldiers.
A day after the cross-border strike, India and Pakistan engaged in aerial skirmishes. On February 27, the Pakistani military claimed it had shot down two IAF jets – one had crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir. India has maintained that Pakistan shot down one MiG-21 aircraft of the IAF while the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet during the dogfight. Pakistan had also managed to capture IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was released in a goodwill gesture and returned home on March 1.