Union minister V K Singh on Tuesday said that BJP president Amit Shah’s “more than 250” casualty figure after the air strike on a Jaish camp in Pakistan was based on his “ashanka” (suspicion) on the basis of intelligence gathered about people in the buildings hit by the IAF.
“Whenever such attacks take place, no witness is present on the ground. He cannot be present on the ground. You make an estimate on your intelligence gathering, which you have done earlier,” the Minister of State for External Affairs said.
“Your intelligence is that these are the number of buildings. So many buildings have been hit. It’s an estimate,” Singh said on the figure given in the aftermath of the Balakot air strike.
“He (Amit Shah) is saying it is ashanka (suspected to have been killed). Let us take it as ashanka,” he told reporters when asked how can the BJP President give the number of 250 casualties.
Singh trashed the Congress demand for evidence on the air strike and the number of casualties as “waste of time” and insisted military operations were a serious matter and not a “game of marbles”.
The minister said no proof is given about action by the forces and asked whether anybody had got proof during wars since 1947.
Some opposition parties on Monday latched on to Shah’s claim of 250 casualties in the Indian Air Force’s strike to ask how he got such top-secret information.
The government has said a “very large number” of terrorists were killed in the preemptive air strike against Jaish-e-Mohammad camp on Feb 26.
On the varying casualty figures, Singh told reporters, “One way is to go there and count and come back. Secondly, what the information you have, you can assess it (figure) and that number is told to the people. Exact figure will be known only when you are there.
“This is not a game of marbles. This is a serious matter. Any action by the forces, no proof is given,” he asserted.
Asked about his reaction on Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh describing the February 14 Pulwama terror attack an “accident”, the former Army chief said, “With due respect, I would like to ask Digvijay Singh, whether Rajiv Gandhi’s killing was a terror act or an accident?”
Lauding the Modi government, Singh said the air strike on terror training camps inside Pakistan showed the decision-making strength of India.
“We have never taken such a decision since 1947, going deep inside (striking in Pakistan), which is a big decision. It showed India’s state of mind in the fight against terrorism. A big decisive turn has come and has come under a leadership,” he said.
The MoS, who is here to interact with different sections of people to include their desires and thoughts in BJP’s poll manifesto, dismissed Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Digvijay Singh’s demand for evidence on the number of dead as “valueless and waste of time”.
Sibal on Monday cited international media claiming there was no proof of militant losses at Balakot and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must answer.
To a query on PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti making a jibe at Air India’s ‘Jai Hind’ order, the former Army chief said he never trusted the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister as he knew her when he was posted in Srinagar and Avantipur in 2004 and 2006.
“Neither believe her nor take her seriously,” Singh said.
An official advisory of the national carrier on Monday said Air India crew will have to say “Jai Hind” after every flight announcement “with much fervour”.
Reacting on the news, Mufti Tuesday tweeted, “Little surprise that with general elections around the corner, the josh of patriotism hasn’t even spared the skies.”
Citing how America was ‘united’ when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, Singh said, “Such unison produces the required impact as the enemy will try not to talk in unison. So, we want that the entire country should be united.
“I felt the whole country was united (post Pulwama and Balakot air strike). Later on, some discordant views emerged, may be because elections are approaching,” he added.