NEW DELHI: In the middle of a political back-and-forth over the Balakot air strike death count, Union Minister VK Singh today took a swipe at the opposition in a tweet on er… mosquitoes. The reference in the minister’s tweet to the pre-dawn Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on February 26 targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camp in Pakistan was not lost on anyone.
“Last night at 3.30 am there were too many mosquitoes, so I used HIT (repellant). Now should I start counting how many mosquitoes I killed or should I go back to sleep?” VK Singh, a former Army Chief, posted in Hindi.
The opposition has been prodding the government to spell out an official death count in the Balakot strike, amid international media reports – many quoting Pakistani locals – questioning the impact of the IAF operation.
On Tuesday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to confirm a casualty figure. “The foreign secretary also gave the statement; that is the figure,” she said, referring to the briefing by Vijay Gokhale the day the air strikes took place.
The Foreign Secretary had not given any figure either; he had said a “very large number” of Jaish terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis being trained for suicide attacks in India were eliminated.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, however, came closest to validating the unofficial figure of “300” talked about on the day of the strike. Attacking the Congress, the Home Minister said the opposition party was not willing to accept an assessment by the National Technical Research Organisation that said some 300 mobile phones were active at the
Jaish-e-Mohammed camp before the Air Force’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets bombed it.
While the government has not given any figure, BJP president Amit Shah claimed at a political rally that over 250 terrorists were killed, provoking opposition digs. VK Singh had said it was not a confirmed figure but an estimate.