2 years of Balakot: Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah lead tributes to Indian Air Force | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

2 years of Balakot: Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah lead tributes to Indian Air Force

By | Written by Karan Manral, New Delhi
Feb 26, 2021 09:33 AM IST

On February 26, 2019, the IAF had struck a Jaish-e-Muhammed camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in retaliation to February 14’s Pulwama suicide attack.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh and Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday saluted the Indian Air Force as the nation observed two years of the IAF’s strike on a Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.

Indian Air Force's Sukhoi 30 plane (PTI).
Indian Air Force's Sukhoi 30 plane (PTI).

Also Read | ‘Bandar mara gaya’: 15 min after missiles struck Balakot, a phone call in Delhi

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“On the anniversary of Balakot Air Strikes, I salute the exceptional courage and diligence of the Indian Air Force,” Singh tweeted, adding, “The success of Balakot strikes has shown India’s strong will to act against terrorism. We are proud of our Armed Forces who keep India safe and secure. @IAF_MCC”

Meanwhile, Shah tweeted in Hindi, “On this very day in 2019, @IAF_MCC responded to the Pulwama terrorist attack, once again making clear New India’s policies against terrorism. I pay my respects to the Pulwama martyrs and salute the courage of the IAF. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the safety of our nation and soldiers is paramount”

At the time of the terrorist attack, and India’s subsequent retaliation, Singh was the Union home minister while Shah was the president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Also Read | IAF strengthened capabilities after Balakot, deployed new acquisitions in Ladakh

On February 26, 2019, India had woken up to the news of IAF’s strike on a Jaish camp in Balakot. The strikes were carried out in the early hours of the day in retaliation to the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 in which more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into their convoy. JeM later claimed responsibility for the attack.

A day after India’s action, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched retaliatory airstrikes of its own as the two sides engaged in aerial warfare for the first time in years. While the Indian Air Force shot down an F-16 of the PAF, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan after his fighter was shot down, and was later released. Varthaman was later honoured with the Vir Chakra on India’s Independence Day for shooting down the F-16.

India and Pakistan, who have fought four wars with each other and have come close on several occasions, announced on Thursday that they had started strictly adhering to a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) from midnight of February 24.

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