300 terrorists could have died in pre-dawn Balakot air strike, says IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s father
Amid intense debates over the number of terrorists killed in Indian Air Force’s stunning February 26 air strike, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s father has reportedly said that the SPICE bombs used in the pre-dawn attack could have killed around 300 terrorists. According to Times of India report, Air Marshal (Retired) Simhakutty Varthaman made the comments while addressing a meet at IIT-Madras on Wednesday. The decorated officer was speaking to students of defence studies at the prestigious IIT-Madras. “The Indian Air Force strike happened when the maximum target were inside the camp. The structural damage might be limited, but the fuse of the bomb is delayed to ensure maximum casualties," Air Marshal (Retired) Varthaman was quoted as saying by the TOI report.
The Air Marshal, a resident of Chennai, is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal. Air Marshal (Retired) Varthaman also spoke about the F-16s and AMRAM missiles. "Pakistan’s F-16s and AMRAAM missiles were the real threat to us. We had to first get F-16s off our back by making sure they were headed to some other direction," the air force veteran said.
Last week, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Friday had said that Pakistan was refusing to acknowledge the damage caused by the Air Force fighter jets in Balakot even though the proof existed in the form of bombed-out Jaish-e-Mohammed camp. The IAF chief quoted an iconic Bob Dylan track when asked about Pakistan denying any damage in the February 26 air strike by IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets in response to the Pulwama attack in which over 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. "It is there in front of you (Pakistan), but you don’t want to see it...I can only recall Dylan, ‘And how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see; the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind..," The Hindustan Times quoted Dhanoa as saying.
While the air force has been very professional on the Balakot air strike, political parties have been embroiled in bitter war of words. The Congress has been demanding proof of the casualties in the JeM camp attack, the BJP has been calling such questions as anti-national. Earlier, Sam Pitroda’s controversial statement on the Indian Air Force’s air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot sparked a massive political controversy. Pitroda had asked the government to come out with "more facts" on the Balakot air strikes, and said that he was "baffled" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reaction to his question which he was entitled to ask. Pitroda, chief of Indian Overseas Congress, also said it was good to have a debate, discussion, dialogue and discourse, and it does not amount to questioning anyone.