Home4th anniversary of Balakot Airstrike by IndiaRemembering Balakot Slayers on 4th anniversary ! How India carried out 'Operation...

Remembering Balakot Slayers on 4th anniversary ! How India carried out ‘Operation Bandar’ and called the ‘Nuclear Bluff’ of Pakistan

Remembering Balakot Slayers on 4th anniversary ! How India carried out 'Operation Bandar' and called the 'Nuclear Bluff' of Pakistan
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The Balakot airstrike, carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF), marks its fourth anniversary on Sunday. It was a “punitive strike” on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region conducted on February 26, 2019. “Operation Bandar,” as it was code-named, was in retaliation for the Pulwama terrorist attack in India, which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers on February 14, 2019. The attack was by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethapora in the Pulwama district of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir.

“Bandar mara gaya.”(The monkey has been killed.) was said in Hindi by the then Air Chief BS Dhanoa through a phone call to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on a special RAX number at 3.45am on February 26, 2019. RAX is an ultra-secure fixed-line network. NSA Doval, in turn, informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Dhanoa also made similar calls to then defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and secretary (Research and Analysis Wing) Anil Dhasmana.

The message meant that the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp at Balakot in Pakistan’s hinterland had been destroyed by Indian fighter jets in a daring pre-dawn cross-border operation.

Top officials and functionaries involved in the Balakot strike previously told HT that the code name “Bandar” was deliberately chosen to confuse Pakistani intelligence, which the Indian side hoped would think the reference was to the JeM HQ in Bhawalpur, where the terror group’s ailing chief Masood Azhar was safely housed.

Five Israeli-origin Spice 2000 bombs with penetrator warheads were dropped on three targets in Balakot by IAF’s Mirage 2000s, allowing them to pierce through the rooftops before exploding inside to cause maximum damage. The target camp was approximately 80 kilometres from the Line of Control (LoC).

Following the Pulwama attack, the two countries engaged in an aerial battle in which wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, flying an upgraded MiG-21 Bison, fought and shot down one of Pakistan’s fighter jets before being hit and forced to eject. After nearly 60 hours in captivity, Pakistan returned him to India on March 1.



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