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Balakot airstrike 3rd anniversary: How ‘Operation Bandar’ helped India avenge Pulwama terror attack

Source : Times Now

Balakot airstrike 3rd anniversary: How ‘Operation Bandar’ helped India avenge Pulwama terror attack
Balakot Airstrike mission was codenamed as 'Operation Bandar' by the Indian Air Force



 To avenge the dastardly 2016 Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on February 26, 2019 successfully carried out ‘Operation Bandar’. Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft crossed the border to carry out a “non-military pre-emptive strike” on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan.

India had launched the airstrike on the JeM camp to avenge the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers, who had died after a JeM terrorist on February 14, 2o16 rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the convoy of the paramilitary force CRPF) in Kashmir’s Pulwama area.

Acting on credible intelligence inputs, the IAF struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.

Following the airstrike on the terrorist camp, the Indian government had stated that the action was taken after credible intelligence was received that Masood Azhar-led JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.

The particular camp in Balakot was headed by Maualana Yousuf Azhar (Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar.

The Ministry of External Affairs had stated that the JeM terrorist camp was the target as India did not want any civilian casualties.

Pakistan never acknowledged that Indian fighter planes had hit any target of consequences in Balakot but the fact that IAF jets entered deep into Pakistan airspace came as an embarrassment to Islamabad.

Following IAF’s airstrike, tensions between India and Pakistan reached a new high with Islamabad sending its PAF aircraft to carry out retaliatory action the next day. However, the attack was thwarted as Indian Air Force was well prepared to give a befitting reply to any misadventure of Pakistan.

As PAF fighter jets, including F-16s, entered Indian airspace to target military installations, the Indian fighter pilots responded with full vigour and a dog fight ensued between the two Air Forces that ended with IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, shooting down an F-16 plane of Pakistan and also getting hit in the process.

IAF’s Varthaman exited safely from his crashed Mig-21 Bison plane but was captured by the Pakistani forces. India demanded his unconditional and safe return. Islamabad ceded to New Delhi’s demand and the pilot safely returned home.Later Varthaman was promoted to the rank of Group Captain and also honoured with Vir Chakra.

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