New Delhi: Amidst a raging controversy over the destruction inflicted on the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp in Balakot, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that the IAF’s air strike was “not a military action” as there was no damage to civilians.
“Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had not given any casualty figure in the airstrike and he had only given a statement, which was the government’s “position”, Sitharaman told reporters today. The defence minister also declined to link the airstrike with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Her reactions comes hours after Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said,”The BJP would like to know is all this tweeting (by Congress leaders on Balakot air strike) a part of a conspiracy? Because whatever is being said here is being shown in Pakistan.”
Brushing aside the barrage of tweets by different Congress leaders, Prasad further said, “There is a growing competition between senior leaders of the Congress party as to who is more vocal in lowering the morale of the security forces.”
Notably, the remarks by Union Ministers come amidst the Opposition seeking details of the death toll in the airstrike, even as the IAF, which carried out the attacks post the Pulwama suicide bombing, said on Monday the Centre would provide details on the casualty figures.
Last week, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that the non-military and pre-emptive strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot had killed “very large number” of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders.
On February 26, 12 days after the Pulwama terror attack that left 40 CRPF personnel martyred, 12 IAF Mirage 2000 jets had crossed the LoC and dropped six 1,000 kg laser-guided bombs in all the terror hideouts at Balakot situated in the northwest of Muzaffarabad.
The attack had killed as many as 300 terrorists, claimed initial reports. News agency ANI quoted sources as saying, “This was an intelligence-based counter-terror strike not a military action for sake of war. Have demolished entire terror set up in the suicide bombing training centre in Balakot, and over 300 terrorists were eliminated in the covert operation by Indian Air Force.”