Dhubri (Assam) | Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the government does not have the number of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists killed in the IAF strike in Pakistan’s Balakot and attacked those questioning its veracity, insisting people who do that are indulging in politics over the valour of the armed forces. He said the number of fatalities at the JeM terror training camp will be known some day.
Singh, however, claimed that the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) has informed the security establishment about the presence of around 300 “active” mobile phones at the training camp site before the IAF bombing.
Charging the opposition with doing politics over the “valour and sacrifice” of defence personnel, the minister advised the Congress, which been demanding proof of the retaliatory assault and casualties in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing that left 40 CRPF men dead, to go to Pakistan and count the bodies if they indeed wanted to ascertain the number of fatalities.
“Some leaders of other political parties are asking us questions about how many terrorists were killed in the IAF strike. Some day, it will be known that how many were killed. Leaders in Pakistan know in their hearts how many perished in the IAF attack,” Singh told a public gathering after inaugurating an electronic border guarding project of the BSF on the Indo-Bangladesh border here.
He mocked the opposition over its demand for the number of fatalities, wondering why its leaders were asking “kitne mare, kitne mare?” (how many were killed?)” “Should our Air Force personnel count the bodies after the attack — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…? What is this joke,” he asked.
The home minister referred to Indian Air Force chief B S Dhanoa’s media interaction on Monday where he said the force does not count bodies and is concerned only about whether the target was hit.
Sidestepping a raging debate on the number of casualties in the Balakot strike, Dhanoa had said it was for the government to provide details of the terrorists.
Singh noted that the NTRO, the technical surveillance organisation of the government, had said that 300 mobile phones were active at the scene of Balakot bombing before the IAF action.
“Now, imagine how many were killed. We do not need to tell this number. I would like to ask if these mobile phones were used by trees or people were there. Now will you (Congress and other opposition parties) not believe the NTRO also? Strange questions are being asked.”
He said politics should not be done only to form a government but to build the country. “If my Congress friends feel that they should be told about the number of terrorists killed, then they should go to Pakistan and count the dead,” Singh said.
He said the prime minister took a firm decision after coming to know of the Pulwama attack. “Our government is firm that the one who looks at us with an evil eye or tries to destabilise us, we will not forgive them. Enough is enough. The prime minister yesterday said that we will eliminate terror bases even if these are in hell. We cannot allow anybody to play with the lives of our people,” he said.
Asserting that the Modi government was committed to the safety and security of the people, he said the country should be proud of the defence forces.
For the BJP, the country is infinitely more important than winning elections, he said, targeting those accusing the Modi government of trying to score political brownie points over the Pulwama attack and the IAF’s retributive assault in Balakot. Peace, he said, was a prerequisite for progress.
Singh paid tributes to Maneswar Basumatary, a CRPF jawan from northeastern state of Assam killed in the Pulwama attack, and others who perished with him, and led the gathering in chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Long Live India) four times, with clenched fists thrusting into the sky.
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