Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday claimed that those who ask for proof of the Indian Air Force’s air strike across the border should be “strapped to rockets” so that they can see it for themselves. Fadnavis’ comments come a day after his Bharatiya Janata Party colleague and minister in his cabinet, Pankaja Munde, made similar remarks.
Addressing a public gathering in Virar suburb of Mumbai, Fadnavis praised the Indian armed forces for targetting terrorist camps across the Line of Control. He, however, hit out at the Opposition for seeking proof of the defence personnel’s action.
“After the Pulwama attack, the country was outraged,” Fadnavis said. “It wanted revenge. Modi told the Army it has full freedom to attack wherever and whenever they wanted to. Our Army conducted air strikes in Balakot at 3.30 am, and destroyed the terrorist camps.”
The chief minister said the Army always had the courage to cross the border to bomb terrorists. However, the previous governments only wanted dialogue, Fadnavis added.
“[IAF Wing Commander] Abhinandan [Varthaman] came back in two days because our 12 missiles were ready,” he claimed. “We had given them two days’ time. The US and China, too, told Pakistan that India is not ready to listen. That is why [Pakistan Prime Minister] Imran Khan went down on his knees and sent Abhinandan back.”
Fadnavis added that while Russia, China and the United States acknowledged that India had conducted air strikes. “But only two kinds of people wanted proof,” he added. “The first was Pakistan. The second was the 56-party ‘mahakhichadi’ [Opposition].”
“Instead of acknowledging the role of the armed forces which gave a befitting reply to the [Pulwama] terror attack, they are questioning them. It is unfortunate,” Fadnavis said. “If we had known that the ‘mahakhichadi’ would demand such proof, we would have strapped one of their leaders to the rockets sent to Balakot, to see it with their own eyes.”
He said India has now joined nations like the US and Israel in attacking those who hurt their Armed Forces. “Unlike the previous government which talked too much but did nothing, Modi has taken action. India now doesn’t bear it timidly. It takes action, strikes back,” he said.
The chief minister claimed that the grand alliance, in their manifestos, have promised to reduce the Army presence in Kashmir if it comes to power, and repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “This means that our Army has to face the bullets, but we cannot fire. But this is a new India. If you fire once, we will fire ten times at you.”
Fadnavis also hit out at the Congress for proposing to scrap the sedition law. “If someone says that the Constitution prepared by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar is not acceptable to him, that he wants to burn it, he can be jailed for 10 years,” the chief minister said. “If someone says I do not respect the Indian flag, they can be thrown in jail under Section 124-A. But when people in a Delhi college said that India should be broken into pieces, and the police jailed them under sedition laws, the Opposition was outraged. But if sedition cannot be a crime, what will be a crime in this country?”
The chief minister said that unlike a local or Assembly election, the Lok Sabha election is about national pride and honour. “It does not eventually matter if Rajendra Gavit [the Shiv Sena candidate from Virar] gets elected, or whether Devendra Fadnavis remains chief minister,” he added. “However, India must continue to exist.”
On Sunday, Munde had said that Congress President Rahul Gandhi should be tied to a bomb and sent to another country for questioning the Army’s air strike in Pakistan.
India’s strike on Balakot came on February 26, days after the a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber killed 40 security personnel in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.