Is it too late in the day to invoke the election code of conduct when the final round of elections is almost done? Is it possible to bring up issues of defence when the Prime Minister decides to speak up? Has the Election Commission already had enough of it when the talk gets to cloud cover and air force bombers being able to bypass it, but concentrate on the secrecy of the mission Balakot.
Apparently Mr. Narendra Modi was engaged in discussions with the defence and security experts in the last week of February prior to the early hours of the 26th to decide that the plan to bomb the Balakot terror camp in Pakistan could not be deferred, but go ahead with it to retain the element of surprise and secrecy of the mission.
Did Mr. Modi decide to make a last-minute salvo and show what a strategist he is? Rather than bother about doubts, does he seem to pat himself on the back? Did his experts keep him in the loop about the Balakot air strikes on Februrary 25- 26 and claim what a good job he had done in trying to curb terrorism from across the border.
According to an unnamed source, quoted by Mail Today, there were certain points about the mission being “compromised by the weather in terms of efficiency but maintaining secrecy was crucial. We had no option but to go for it”, the source added. The most important factor that emerged was the element of surprise and secrecy being ensured. It emerged as the most important point.
Certain experts said that bad weather might have prevented Indian Air Force jets from clear imagery of the attack they were carrying out.
The BJP might have deleted its “handle” on the net when it felt that perhaps the election code of conduct might have been exceeded, but it could afford to let a one-minute video remain on line. But has the issue created a buzz about Mr. Modi’s handling of critical issues like defence of the nation? He is entitled to ask rhetorically whether any other leader of the nation could match him in defending India.
“I had two issues in mind. One was secrecy… and the second, I said I am not someone who knows the science. I said there is so much cloud and rain. There is a benefit. I have raw wisdom to guide me, the clouds can benefit us. We can escape the radar. Everyone was confused. Ultimately I said there are clouds… yet, let’s proceed”. That tweet is no longer on the BJP site, but the party had also placed a one-minute video on Twitter about the story of the air strike in the PM Modi’s words. It remains, undeleted, it is claimed.
Air Marshal Vinod Bhatia (retired), who has commanded three Air Commands, comments: “Scientifically, radars are not affected by cloud cover, but it is the weapon aiming at the target that could be a problem if the target was not clearly visible.
The Indian Air Force knew radars are not affected by clouds or rain and Pakistan radar did pick Indian planes. It is speculated that the cloud piercing spy satellite might or might not have been functional. Indian missiles were expected to beam back footage as they hit their target, using Spice munitions, but did the video feed of the Crystal Maze strike, meant to show destruction of the Balakot terror camp,materialise because of clouds that day?
Experts say that ‘reliable bomb damage assessment’ may not have been gathered since the missile with the video feed was not launched into the clouds to see the results of the air strike.
Did the Prime Minister imply that a laser-based system cannot penetrate clouds because it uses visible light. What sort of light was expected when the mission was carried out much before dawn. But Mr. Modi clearly talks about radar, which can detect objects with precision even in adverse weather conditions. PM Modi trying to do experts job at best has made experts wonder if he compromised the mission to achieve his political goals by leaking details of mission.
Lalit Sethi is a Journalist of long standing and a commentator on Political and Social Issues.