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Balakot airstrike: Balakot Airstrike Anniversary: When India took revenge for the Pulwama attack deep inside Pak, A timeline

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Today, on February 26, 2024, India commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Balakot airstrike, a historic military operation conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in response to the Pulwama terror attack. The Balakot airstrike, conducted on February 26, 2019, was a meticulously planned and executed operation that demonstrated India’s unwavering commitment to national security. The codeword “Bandar Mara Gaya” was reportedly used to relay the success of the mission, signaling the elimination of a significant threat.

Background and Context

The operation was a response to the heinous Pulwama terror attack on February 14, 2019, where a suicide bomber affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammed targeted a convoy of Indian paramilitary personnel, resulting in the loss of over 40 lives. In a swift and calculated move, the IAF struck the terror camps in Balakot, situated deep inside Pakistani territory, sending a strong message that India would not tolerate cross-border terrorism.

Timeline of Events:

  • February 14, 2019: 40 CRPF personnel were killed in the Pulwama attack.
  • February 15, 2019: India decided to withdraw the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan.
  • February 16, 2019: The mortal remains of the 40 soldiers were laid to rest in their hometowns.
  • February 17, 2019: The Jammu and Kashmir administration decided to withdraw security cover provided to five separatist leaders in the Valley.
  • February 18, 2019: Nine people, including an Army Major and three Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, were killed in a gun battle in Pulwama.
  • February 19, 2019: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, broke his silence on the Pulwama terror attack.
  • February 20, 2019: The probe in the terror attack case was taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • February 22, 2019: The Pakistani government decided to take the ‘administrative control’ of the JeM headquarters.
  • February 23, 2019: The Centre rushed about 10,000 central forces personnel to the Kashmir valley.
  • February 26, 2019: The Indian Air Force bombed JeM’s “biggest” terror-training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
  • February 27, 2019: IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by Pakistan.
  • February 28, 2019: Pakistan suspended the Samjhauta Express train service between the two countries.
  • March 1, 2019: IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was freed by Pakistan.

Execution of the Balakot Airstrike

India received intelligence indicating that JeM had relocated in-training terrorists and hardcore operatives, along with their trainers, to a camp situated approximately 20 km from Balakot town. This five-star resort-style camp, nestled atop a hill in a thick forest, became a target for the Indian forces. Fighter and other aircraft took off from various air bases, creating confusion among Pakistani defense officials about their destination. A select group of aircraft broke away, heading directly to Balakot, catching the terrorists off guard. The operation, executed with precision, lasted 20 minutes, from 3:45 am to 4:05 am.

Impact and Diplomatic Fallout

The success of the Balakot airstrike was not merely a military victory; it was a diplomatic triumph that garnered international support for India’s actions against terrorism. The global community acknowledged India’s right to self-defense and condemned the menace of terrorism, urging Pakistan to take concrete steps to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil.

As the nation reflects on the anniversary of the Balakot airstrike, it serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the armed forces and their dedication to protecting the sovereignty of the country. The heroes who participated in this mission demonstrated exceptional courage and skill, embodying the spirit of the Indian armed forces.

The airstrike also reignited the discourse on national security, counter-terrorism strategies, and the importance of international cooperation in combating extremism. It prompted a reevaluation of defense policies and underscored the need for a robust and proactive stance against those fostering terrorism.

While the Balakot airstrike remains etched in the collective memory of the nation as a moment of valor and resolve, it also serves as a testament to the unity and resilience of the Indian people in the face of adversity. As the anniversary is commemorated, it reaffirms the nation’s commitment to safeguarding its interests and ensuring a secure and peaceful future.

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