India

Have right to know how many people died in Balakot airstrike, don’t play politics over jawan’s bodies: Mamata Banerjee

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday demanded that the details of India’s ‘pre-emptive strikes across Line of Control’, reportedly targeting militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad’s camp be made public.

She further stated that there should not be war between the two countries because of “political compulsions”.

“We have the right to know how many people died in the air strike and who were they? We want to know the actual incident as we have not received any details…. We love the nation. But we do not like to see people play politics over bodies of our jawans….,” Mamata told reporters at the state secretariat on Thursday.

She also said that no action was taken in the past five years despite attacks in Uri and Pathankot.

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Nothing happened in the past five years. There have been terror attacks in Uri and Pathankot but no action was taken. The government had received an advisory regarding the attacks, but no preventive action was taken and their (jawans’) lives were endangered,” she said.

Reacting to the chief minister’s statement, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha criticised her for raising questions over the air strike.

“Banerjee is disrespecting the position of her chair by making such comments. She is indirectly encouraging terrorist activities in Pakistan by doubting the air strike conducted by the Indian Air Force. This is unfortunate that the chief minister of a state made such a statement,” Sinha said.

The development occurs after Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan during a joint Parliament session on Thursday said that as a gesture of peace, they would return captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan to India.

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He further stated that he was ready for talks with India and de-escalate tensions between both countries.

During the session, he said that the reason of escalation between India and Pakistan was the Kashmir dispute.

“All of this is because of Kashmir,” PM Khan said while addressing a joint session of parliament.

“I want to ask the Indian public about all that has happened over the past 4 years. There is an indigenous movement in Kashmir. At one point, Kashmiri leaders had not wanted separation, but because of Indian brutality, today all they demand is independence.”

The development occurs after Wednesday saw a terse exchange between India and Pakistan, with the former stating that it had warded intruding Pakistani fighter jets in Kashmir, shooting down an F-16 that fell on the Pakistani-administered side, while an Indian MiG-21 was lost in action, while the latter claiming that it had shot down the plane, which crashed in its territory, and displayed an Indian Air Force pilot it had captured.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Foreign Secretary of India had said that they have ‘struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot in the pre-dawn ‘preemptive strikes across the Line of Control’.

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“India struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot and a large number of terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis planning terror strikes were eliminated,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said.

Gokhale had added that India’s “non-military preemptive action” was specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp.

The outfit had claimed the responsibility of the Pulwama suicide bombing of February 14 in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.

“Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country and Fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose,” he had said.

“India has given proof many times seeking action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and others at terror camps so big, that they can train hundreds of jihadis and terrorists at any given time. But due to Pakistan’s inaction, this step was necessary and had to be taken,” he had said.

Earlier, India has said that they carried out a pre-dawn strike on a ‘militant camp’ across the Line of Control soon after Pakistan army said that Indian fighter jets were forced to leave after they crossed the LoC in Muzaffarabad sector.

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According to reports, the strike was carried out at around 3:30 Tuesday morning by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. The aircraft dropped, according to reports, ‘1,000 kg laser-guided bombs on a major militant camp across the Line of Control, completely destroying it’, news agency ANI reported, quoting Air Force sources.

Earlier, Pakistan Army claimed that the Indian military planes “intruded” from the Muzaffarabad sector but were forced to go back after Pakistan Air Force “immediately scrambled”.

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