Indian Air Force (IAF) has provided the government with radar and satellite images of air strikes on “intended targets” at the JeM terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot showing that the bombings caused “significant damage” to it, sources in the security establishment told PTI on Wednesday. This “evidence” comes after a report by a foreign news agency claimed that satellite images of the Jaish-e-Mohammad Madrasa located in Balakot showed that the camp was still without any damage and structure was still standing. The central government on Sunday was provided with all the “evidence” about the February 26 IAF strike on the JeM terror camp; the evidence included radar and satellite imagery and showed that India’s S-2000 laser-guided munition struck the intended targets “causing significant internal damage”, sources have said.
To recall, the S-2000 smart bombs pierces the targets and cause a blast from the inside, sources say. The report also said that the IAF had gathered the satellite images of the JeM camp from independent sources post the strikes to evaluate the impact of the pre-dawn operation; those radar and satellite images have also been given to the government.
The report by the foreign news agency had compared an April 2018 image of the JeM facility and the image taken on March 4, 2019 to show that the buildings were virtually unchanged; this also comes as debate heats up over the exact number of human casualties in the Balakot air strikes by the IAF.
Briefing reporters in the previous week, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that “a very large number of JeM terrorists, senior commanders, trainers and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated”, while the government sources estimate the number at 350 terrorists. Later on, BJP president Amit Shah put the number of terrorists killed at 250. With various media reports emerging that only minimal damage occurred during these air strikes, Congress and other opposition parties have joined the chorus seeking clarity on the air strikes.
On Monday, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa held a press conference in which he said that IAF only sees if a target has been hit or not and it is the government which provides the number on how many terrorists were killed. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has not given any figure when prompted about the number of terrorists killed.
Incidentally, according to an ANI report, Indian intelligence agencies found around 300 active mobile connections at the JeM camp ahead of the airstrike. The surveillance was conducted by the National Technical Research Organisation of the Balakot camp in days leading up to the airstrike.