COIMBATORE Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said Monday that the death toll in India’s cross-LoC airstrike in Balakot would depend on the “number of people present in the target” and the casualty figure would be “given by the government”.
“The Indian Air Force is not in a position to clarify the number of casualties. The government will clarify that. We don’t count human casualties. We do not count how many people were dead. We count what targets we have hit or not.
“We hit our target. The air force doesn’t calculate casualty numbers. The government does that,” Dhanoa told the media in Coimbatore.
“The target has been clearly amplified by the Foreign Secretary in a statement. If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target. Otherwise why would he (Pakistan Prime Minister) have responded. If we dropped bombs in the jungles why would he respond,” Dhanoa said in his first public remarks on the February 26 air force operation as a consequence of the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
BJP chief Amit Shah said on Sunday that “more than 250 militants” were killed in the February 26 cross-LoC airstrike in Balakot.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram and party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu? hit out at the government over claims on the number of militants killed in the Balakot air strike by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
300 (militants) dead, Yes or No? What was the purpose then? Were you uprooting militants or trees? Was it an election gimmick? Deceit possesses our land in guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Stop politicising the army, it is as sacred as the state, Sidhu, a Punjab Minister, said in a tweet.
Chidambaram said as a proud citizen he was prepared to believe the government but if we want the world to believe, government must make the effort, not indulge in Opposition bashing.
IAF Vice Air Marshal declined to comment on casualties. MEA statement said there were no civilian or military casualties. So, who put out the number of casualties as 300-350?, he said on twitter.
He also questioned as to why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was silent about the air strike. Stating that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was the first to salute the IAF for its splendid achievement, he said, Why has Modi forgotten that?