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Govt stand on death toll in IAF Pak. strike same as one given by Foreign Secretary: Nirmala Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

The Government of India’s position on the number of terrorists killed in the IAF strike on the terrorist camp in Balakot was the same as the one provided by the Foreign Secretary in his statement that “didn’t give a figure,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Chennai on Tuesday

Asked about the varying claims on the casualty figures in the air strike, she said: “The Foreign Secretary didn’t give a figure. He gave a statement. That is the Government of India’s position.” Asked if the government would release satellite imagery of the strike area, the Defence Minister said, “Well, I can’t say it now.”

The Defence Minister’s statement comes against the backdrop of BJP president Amit Shah’s claim at a rally in Ahmedabad that 250 terrorists were killed at the facility while Union Minister of State For Electronics and Information Technology S.S. Ahluwalia said in Siliguri that the attack on Balakot was only to deliver a warning and that the government did not want any casualty.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, in the statement, had said “A very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis, who were being trained for fidayeen action, were eliminated,” and did not provide a specific number.

‘Run out of patience’

Hinting that India had run out of patience against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism after 40 CRPF jawans were killed in a terror attack at Pulwama, Ms. Sitharaman said India went in for a “pointed hit” after coming to know that terror attacks were being planned from there. “We ensured no civilian there was affected in the attack,” she said.

The Defence Minister said the attack on Balakot was “not a military action”. “We, including the previous governments, have been constantly saying that terrorism is emanating from Pakistan. This has been going on for a long time. These terrorists are coming from Pakistan to attack us. Not only us, the UPA government too had been giving proof to Pakistan on terror training camps in Pakistan and that we should not come under attack from them.” Despite that, Pakistan has been claiming at the global level that they too are victims of terror, Ms. Sitharaman said, adding that Pakistan had not dismantled any terrorist infrastructure on its soil.

“When the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks took place, proof of the involvement of Pakistani handlers was given to the Pakistan government. They have not brought them to justice before the courts unlike India. We took these terrorists through a proper legal process step by step and punished those who attacked our country. Pakistan has never punished any terrorists through its courts,” she said.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 12:50:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/balakot-air-strike-was-not-a-military-action-says-defence-minister-nirmala-sitharaman/article26437080.ece

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