Days after the Pulwama attack, India and Pakistan retaliated with air strikes in what can be seen as the worst escalation between the two countries in decades. The extent of damage at Balkot in Pakistan where the Indian Air Force dropped bombs on Tuesday, is unknown. An Indian commander pilot has been detained by Pakistan following their air strike yesterday.
The Indian government bombed a hilltop in Balkot, believed to be the biggest training base of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group who killed 40 CRPF troops in Pulwama recently. The government said these were ‘non-military pre-emptive’ strikes that avoided civilian causalities, and killed a large number of JeM terrorists.
The Pakistan government first denied the attack, and then said India committed an act of aggression to which they will respond with a ‘surprise’. Pakistan’s military jets entered Kashmir’s Rajouri district yesterday. Two aircrafts were shot and commander Abhinandan was taken captive. The Pakistan army released a video of the pilot saying he is safe and taken care of.
Details about the number of people who died in the Balkot air strikes are yet to be known. Some reports claim that around 350 people lived in the area, and some others say that JeM camps in the region were JeM run madrasas. The Pakistan government has not commented on the presence of the JeM group in Balkot.
Civilians around LoC have reportedly been injured due to cross-border shooting. This morning, Prime Minister Modi released a statement saying India will ‘fight, live and win as one’. “I want to assure the people of India that the country is in safe hands. I will save the honour of the country.”
The Pakistan government has offered to co-operate with Pulwama investigation. Pakistan PM Imran Khan said, “India and Pakistan should sit down and talk. Better sense should prevail.”
Indian politicians in power, opposition parties, state governments, celebrities and the many people who condemned Pulwama attacks, supported Prime Minister Modi’s call to give a free hand to Indian security forces to “punish the perpetrators of the crime.”
These attacks and retaliations have come days before this year’s Lok Sabha elections. Karnataka’s BJP chief Yeddyurappa says the strikes will secure BJP more seats.
Meanwhile, the All India Cine Workers Association has asked the government to ban Pakistani artists in Bollywood. Pakistan’s Film Exhibitors Association has been ordered to boycott Indian films and advertisements.
Many people from India and abroad said that the strikes by IAF were the right ‘revenge for Pulwama’, and this was a proud moment for India to be able to prove strength. In the south, Kamal Haasan, MK Stalin, VijayakantH, Mammootty, Mohanlal and others supported the Indian army. Siddharth, Khushboo, Prakash Raj said that this was not a time to ‘politicise’ the issue.
Proud of our #IndianAirForce pilots for their exceptional act of valor! ? ??
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) February 26, 2019
Our 12 return safely home after wreaking havoc on terrorist camps in Pakistan. India is proud of its heroes. I salute their valour.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) February 26, 2019
BRAVO INDIA ????????
— Rajinikanth (@rajinikanth) February 26, 2019
I salute Indian Air Force. #IndianAirForce pic.twitter.com/Vzt8pOT60N
— Mammootty (@mammukka) February 26, 2019
How is the Josh #IndiaStrikesBack #IndiaAirForce #JaiHind
— Mohanlal (@Mohanlal) February 26, 2019
My thanks and congratulations to
Indian Air Force & PM @narendramodi ji
for their timely retaliation to Pakistan.#IndiaStrikesBack | #IndianAirForce pic.twitter.com/fGWAPFprxM
— Vijayakant (@iVijayakant) February 26, 2019
A liberal in #Pakistan is not just an oxymoron but also extremely dangerous. If you're going to preach virtue, at least leave your terror obsessed country first. https://t.co/wA5PXhjdTq
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) February 26, 2019
If you decide whom to vote for in the coming elections based on the #Pulawama terror attack, that is effectively a vote for terror.
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) February 18, 2019
A loathsome individual who sells manipulation. #Pakistan is not at odds with #BJP. Our soldiers are not dying for #BJP. We are a country being attacked. Support for the government is mutually exclusive from support for the #BJP. @narendramodi represents #India not #BJP. Be alert. https://t.co/mehULFPXpr
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) February 27, 2019
If this is confirmed, a fantastic news on India's ability to counter terrorism in a strong manner. #IndiaStrikesBack will always be a proud moment for every Indian???✍️✍️ https://t.co/TOPfOElQPW
— BOFTA Dhananjayan (@Dhananjayang) February 26, 2019
Lyricist Vairamuthu wrote in praise of the Indian Air Force.
ஆனால், தீவிரவாதத்தின் மீது
தீ வைப்பதைத் தவிர வேறு வழியில்லை.
ஆகாய வீரர்களே! அசகாய சூரர்களே!
அண்ணாந்து பார்த்து வணக்கம் சொல்கிறோம்.#IndianArmyRocks #revengeforpulwama #IndianArmyOurPride
— வைரமுத்து (@vairamuthu) February 26, 2019
His Twitter feed doesn’t have any tweet about him donating to any flood / cyclone / Tsunami or any other social cause until #MeToo.
He also did NOT praise the Government for the previous surgical strike.
His long political experience is evident in his image-rebuilding exercise. https://t.co/G9nCB1bauR
— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) February 26, 2019
Actress-politician Khushboo Sundar changed her Twitter handle to “A proud Indian despite being a Muslim.” She also accused Modi of taking credit for the strikes and calling it his own success.
Whatte bunch of jokers!! So you agree and confirm the terrorist base is in PAK?? You agree to the world the base of terrorism is there on your side, right??? https://t.co/CRDvJUToWI
— KhushbuSundar..A proud INDIAN despite bng a Muslim (@khushsundar) February 27, 2019
Taking away the credit from those who rightly deserve it and calling the success as your own is your biggest failure..have the courage and the heart to accept our armed forces are mightier than you..let our bravehearts be credited..#IAF is the true HERO of today.. #Bravo #Salute
— KhushbuSundar..A proud INDIAN despite bng a Muslim (@khushsundar) February 27, 2019
Actor politician Prakash Raj accused the BJP of politicising war.
https://t.co/lfzp3NAiIt …SHAME on @bjp and its leaders for politicising war .. ಹುತಾತ್ಮರ ಬಲಿದಾನವನ್ನು ಸ್ವಾರ್ಥ ರಾಜಕೀಯಕ್ಕೆ ಬಳಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ಭಾಜಪ ನಾಯಕರಿಗೆ ಧಿಕ್ಕಾರ… ನಾಚಿಕೆ ಇಲ್ಲದ ಧೂರ್ತರು .. pic.twitter.com/2Vkx66DGCK
— Prakash Raj (@prakashraaj) February 28, 2019
Cinematographer KV Anand retweeted a post that said, “If war doesn’t scare you, you’re probably profiting from it.”
If War doesn't scare you, you're probably profiting from it.
— Don Q (@Argentum729) February 27, 2019
Actor Vishnu Vishal, composer Vishal Dadlani tweeted #SayNoToWar.
Please stop believing anything we see or hear…let us just pray for the safe return of our IAF WING COMMANDER ABHINANDAN VARTHAMAN service number 27981 who has been captured by Pakistan.. #saynotowar
— VISHNU VISHAL – VV (@TheVishnuVishal) February 27, 2019
Thank you! ?? Only sane citizen voices can compel their governments to find some sense in these insane times. #SayNoToWar https://t.co/PAInoBN0F8
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) February 27, 2019
Actor-politician Sarath Kumar, director Karthik Subbaraj, actors Vishal, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Samantha Akkineni, Rakul Preet Singh, RJ Balaji, Aishwarya Rajesh, Vikram Prabhu are also among those who reacted.
I salute u #AbhinandanMyHero. Every Indian s pride and a great example of bravery n courage. To every #IAFPilot wit folded hands and wit gratitude. Thank u for guarding us n our nation. Everyday n nite.
— Vishal (@VishalKOfficial) February 27, 2019
IAF destroyed terrorist camps in Kashmir. While congratulating their strong action, I pray for their preparedness to respond any further action by Pakistan.#Pulwama #IndianAirForce
— R Sarath Kumar (@realsarathkumar) February 26, 2019
Super proud of the #IndianAirForce! I salute this act of bravery! ??
— Tamannaah Bhatia (@tamannaahspeaks) February 26, 2019
Big salute to #IndianAirForce ?#IndiaStrikesBack
— karthik subbaraj (@karthiksubbaraj) February 26, 2019
#Surgicalstrike2 #Balakot #indianairforce now that's what heroes are supposed to look like..#SaluteIndianAirForce #JaiHind God bless their souls..thank u for being as humane as possible and avoiding civilian casualties… pic.twitter.com/FjyDQZ0e3o
— varu sarathkumar (@varusarath) February 26, 2019
No starting wars but ending it like ???? #IndianAirForce ?? #JaiHind
— Samantha Akkineni (@Samanthaprabhu2) February 26, 2019
Salute to the #IndianAirforce ?? #IndiaStrikesBack .. the entire country is super proud ?
— Rakul Preet (@Rakulpreet) February 26, 2019
This pic says it all #IndianArmyOurPride #JaiHind pic.twitter.com/QWTcOVx61Z
— aishwarya rajessh (@aishu_dil) February 26, 2019
#SurgicalStrike #IndianAirForce #Salute #VandeMataram ?????? ??????
— soundarya rajnikanth (@soundaryaarajni) February 26, 2019
— Vikram Prabhu (@iamVikramPrabhu) February 26, 2019
#IndiaStrikesBack Salute to the Indian Airforce !!!??? #SurgicalStrike2 Jaihind.
— LKG (@RJ_Balaji) February 26, 2019
Image courtesy: Indian Express