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'Baffling' to dub as anti-national those questioning India's Balakot strikes: Mehbooba Mufti

March 03, 2019

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Mehbooba Mufti asserted that as citizens everyone is accorded "every right to question the credibility of the Balakot operation". — AFP/File
Mehbooba Mufti asserted that as citizens everyone is accorded "every right to question the credibility of the Balakot operation". — AFP/File

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday expressed her bewilderment at the fact that those questioning the truth about India's airstrikes in Pakistan's Balakot area were being dubbed "anti-national".

"Calling those who question the veracity of Balakot strikes anti national is baffling," she wrote on Twitter.

At the same time, she said the Indian opposition should not divert attention away from other "pressing issues" to the airstrikes.

See: India refuses to share proof of air strikes in Balakot

"The opposition should not fall into this trap of changing the entire election discourse from pressing issues like demonetisation, GST, unemployment, farmers distress to these strikes," she added.

In a second tweet, she cautioned against the "fading into oblivion" of economic indicators that deserve much more attention than the Balakot strikes which she said will "only help BJP electorally".

Mufti also asserted that as Indian citizens everyone is accorded "every right to question the credibility of the Balakot operation".

She said due to the Indian government's ambiguity regarding the details of the operation, questions were only natural. "How does it help the enemies?" she asked, adding that it puts the government of India "in a tight spot" since they are looking to capitalise on the narrative for political gains.

Read more: Villagers near Balakot say nobody killed or injured by Indian aircraft

Her remarks come a day after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a massive National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rally in Patna, slammed the opposition parties for being sceptical and "asking for proof" for the airstrikes in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama bombing.

India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said the alleged strike killed "a very large number" of militants belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, and another senior government official told reporters that about 300 militants had been killed, but New Delhi has refused to provide evidence to support that assessment.

Examine: When truth is the first casualty

In fact, at a press briefing on February 28, Indian Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor had said that it would be "premature" to say how many casualties had been caused by the strike, and that the Indian Air Force had "destroyed whatever it intended to".