Balakot strikes: Modi thought 'clouds will help escape radar'
The Balakot airstrikes emboldened the country's spirits and the ruling BJP saw an electoral opportunity in it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speeches have proved this more than once. But on Saturday he made a comment which invited both criticism and ridicule. PM Modi said he gave go-ahead to the operation despite clouds, as they would protect jets from Pakistan's radar. We can't even!
Backstory: After Pulwama attack, IAF jets replied to Jaish
The Balakot strikes remain one of the riskiest operations undertaken by Indian Air Force. To avenge the martyrdom of 40 CRPF soldiers, 12 IAF jets breached Pakistani airspace and bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest camp. After causing damage to the terror outfit on the intervening night of February 25 and 26, the jets returned to their bases unscratched. Subsequently, tensions between India and Pakistan escalated.
In an interview, PM Modi made an unusual confession
Now, Pulwama attack and Balakot operation have found a way into BJP's poll narrative. Despite Election Commission's order that parties can't use armed forces to seek votes, PM Modi has been doing just the same. But while speaking to TV channel News Nation, he took it a notch higher. He claimed experts wanted to delay the operation's date but he insisted on February 25-26.
I thought clouds can benefit us, let's proceed: PM Modi
Recalling the day, PM Modi said the weather suddenly turned bad and he wanted secrecy. "I said I am not someone who knows the science. I said there is so much cloud and rain. I have raw wisdom, the clouds can benefit us too. We can escape the radar. Everyone was confused. Ultimately I said there are clouds... let's proceed," he went on.
After the statement, Opposition didn't waste any time
In his chest-thumping, PM Modi perhaps forgot that radars can detect objects despite adverse weather conditions. Soon he was criticized from several quarters. Congress' Salman Soz said, "It seems no one clarified for the PM how radars work." Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah tweeted (sarcastically), "This is an important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future airstrikes."
And Congress went all poetic!
Clouds stopped the firing of Crystal Maze missiles
PM Modi's admission that he ignored experts' advice has also raised concerns as any laxity could have blown up the plan. Notably, clouds did affect Balakot strikes in a negative manner. IAF jets were supposed to fire six Crystal Maze missiles but weather stopped them. The video feed of the Crystal Maze strike could have shown the exact destruction. But this important question remains unanswered.