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PM Modi’s ‘cloud benefit’ remark on Balakot strike sparks political row

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had explained in the interview how the government decided to go ahead with the strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest terror training camp despite a cloud cover.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 12, 2019 18:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lok Sabha election 2019,narendra Modi interview,Balakot strike
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment in a TV channel interview on Balakot air strikes triggered a political row on Sunday.(PTI)

A political row broke out on Sunday over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments in a television interview over the timing of the Balakot air strikes. In this interview, PM Modi had outlined how the government had decided to go ahead with the strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest terror training camp despite a cloud cover.

“The weather suddenly turned bad. There was a doubt about whether we can strike in bad weather. During a review (of the Balakot plan), experts said what if we change the date. I had two issues in mind. One was secrecy... second, I said I have a raw vision, the clouds can benefit us too. We can escape the radar. Everyone was confused. Ultimately I said there are clouds... let’s proceed,” he told News Nation on Saturday.

Read: ‘Will jawans take EC’s permission before shooting terrorists?’: PM Modi

When contacted senior Indian Air Force officer, a fighter pilot involved in Balakot strikes planning, said : “The radars, most probably Swedish Giraffe, used by Pakistanis can see through the cloud cover, but the kill system or missile (probably RBS 70) used to bring down the intruder is equipped with an infra-red homing head. It is the infra-red seeker that get degraded during cloud cover. And hence the difficulty in knocking out the intruding fighter.”

PM Modi’s comment nevertheless triggered a series of reaction on social media from opposition parties. It didn’t help that the BJP’s Twitter handle, which tweeted the PM’s remark soon after the interview, deleted it later. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was among the first politicians to take a swipe at the Prime Minister.

“Looks like the tweet got lost in the clouds. Luckily there are screen shots floating around to help,” Abdullah tweeted, adding, “Pakistani radar doesn’t penetrate clouds. This is an important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future air strikes.”

The Left leader Sitaram Yechury said: “National security is not something to be trifled with. Such an irresponsible statement from Modi is highly damaging. Somebody like this can’t remain India’s PM.”

“#EntireCloudCover is a blockbuster clip. It will be used in the Indian Institute of Science as a case-study,” national spokesperson of the Congress Sanjay Jha tweeted.

On February 27, the Indian Air Force had carried out the airstrikes at the Jaish camp deep inside Pakistan. The government said the strikes were designed to destroy the training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed for the Pulwama suicide bombing 13 days earlier. Forty CRPF soldiers were killed in the February 14 bombing, the deadliest terror attack on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir in three decades.

First Published: May 12, 2019 13:36 IST

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