Defence minister Rajnath Singh and Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday saluted the Indian Air Force as the nation observed two years of the IAF’s strike on a Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
Rajnath Singh tweeted:
Meanwhile, Shah tweeted in Hindi:
At the time of the terrorist attack, and India’s subsequent retaliation, Singh was the Union home minister while Shah was the president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On February 26, 2019, India had woken up to the news of IAF’s strike on a Jaish camp in Balakot. The strikes were carried out in the early hours of the day in retaliation to the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 in which more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into their convoy. JeM later claimed responsibility for the attack.
A day after India’s action, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched retaliatory airstrikes of its own as the two sides engaged in aerial warfare for the first time in years. While the Indian Air Force shot down an F-16 of the PAF, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan after his fighter was shot down, and was later released. Varthaman was later honoured with the Vir Chakra on India’s Independence Day for shooting down the F-16.
India and Pakistan, who have fought four wars with each other and have come close on several occasions, announced on Thursday that they had started strictly adhering to a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) from midnight of February 24.