Opposition leaders on Sunday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for claiming that he had given the Indian Air Force the green signal to proceed with airstrikes in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26 despite bad weather because “the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars”.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury described the prime minister’s remarks as shameful. “Most importantly, because they insult our Air Force as being ignorant and unprofessional,” Yechury said. “The fact that he is talking about all this is itself anti-national, no patriot would do this.”
The CPI(M) leader said national security was not something to be trifled with. “Such an irresponsible statement from Modi is highly damaging,” he added. “Somebody like this cannot remain India’s prime minister.”
Yechury’s party alleged that BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers lack “rationality and scientific temper” and that the prime minister was no different.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah took a dig at the BJP’ for deleting a tweet about Modi’s claim. “Looks like the tweet got lost in the clouds,” Abdullah tweeted. “Luckily there are screen shots floating around to help.”
The National Conference leader sarcastically added that Pakistani radars do not penetrate clouds. “This is an important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future air strikes,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted, “Modi ji yeh radar hai , please remove your Rayban and see the clouds again.”
Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti said Modi’s logic was painfully embarrassing. “No secret that Balakot strikes failed to hit the intended target,” tweeted the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister. “Was it because the prime minister overruled the advice of Indian Air Force and authorised airstrikes in bad weather? Cloud cover logic is painfully embarrassing. Remind me again, why is Rahu Gandhi derided as Pappu?”
Mufti also shared a meme criticising Modi. “I was raked over the coals for questioning veracity of Balakot strikes.” Mufti said. “But seeing Pakistani media and journalists troll the prime minister on cloud gaffe is awfully embarrassing. BJPs ability to suspend logic in its quest to win another term is mind numbingly fatuous. Our armed forces do not deserve this.”
The prime minister made the much-derided remarks in an interview to News Nation on Saturday. He claimed to have used his “raw wisdom” to dispel the doubts of defence experts who planned the mission. “I am surprised that the country’s pundits who abuse me never figured this out,” he told the news channel.
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 fighter jets any advantage.
The Twitter accounts of the BJP’s national and Gujarat units shared the interview clip, but deleted these soon after.
The airstrikes – described by the Indian government as a “non-military preemptive action” – were conducted on February 26, 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 for the attack.
India had claimed that the strikes had resulted in the deaths of “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis”.
However, according to Pakistan, India’s bombs only hit a few trees near the Jaish camp. International journalists and experts have also refuted India’s claims, although Modi and the BJP have doggedly used the Balakot airstrike in the campaign for the general elections.