PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the Indian airstrike on a terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot would have been ranked “among one of the major military operations of the world”, had it not been for “politics”. In an interview to India TV’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma in front of nearly 2,500 people at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Modi was asked what had prompted the early release of captured Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The PM replied cryptically: “That was a (terrible) night. There are many mysteries buried in (the darkness of) that night. Let those mysteries stay where they are,” he added.
Speaking at length about the airstrike on Balakot, Modi said in the absence of the general election, the airstrike would have ranked among one of the major military operations of the world. In a sharp jibe at the Opposition, who sought credible evidence of the strike, he said: “Any citizen of India has the right to demand evidence... political leaders also have the right to demand evidence, but then, accepting those evidences is also their responsibility. The problem (with Opposition) is they demand and demand, but do not accept. The biggest evidence (of Balakot airstrike) is Pakistan itself.” He argued that after the airstrike, Pakistan was in a quandary.
“If it admitted that the airstrike caused damage, the world would know that there was a terrorist camp there. It was a lone residential building housing 600 people on a hill surrounded by trees. So, to hide this, they had to do something,” he added.
Abhinandan thanks families of his colleagues in viral video
IN an undated video that has gone viral on the Internet, defence personnel and colleagues gather around Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, as the IAF pilot who was captured and held captive in Pakistan earlier this year, interacts with them. In the 119 second video, Abhinandan can be seen being “mobbed” by colleagues for a photograph and the fighter pilot happily obliges them with selfies and photographs.
Army and Air Force personnel are heard shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and the pilot also joins them in raising the slogan. “I will tell you why I clicked so many pictures with you. This is not for you but for your family. I could not meet them personally but when you show these photographs to him, tell them ‘All the Best’ from my side. Several people were praying for me to get well and your family members were also amongst them,” Abhinandan says to armed forces personnel surrounding him.