Indian politician accuses Modi of ‘politicising terror’


— Kapil wonders if international media is ‘pro-Pakistan’ for refuting India’s claim of Balakot casualties

India’s former union minister Kapil Sibal asked on Monday if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “politicising terror”, pointing to news reports saying India’s airstrikes did not kill terrorists in Pakistan.

India sent warplanes into Pakistani territory last week to strike an alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp, less than a fortnight after the militant group claimed to have carried out a suicide attack that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers in southern Kashmir. The Air Force has said it is premature to assess casualties, although the Ministry of External Affairs said earlier that a large number of suspected terrorists had been killed. Amit Shah, the BJP president, put the number at more than 250 on Sunday.

While criticising Prime Minister Modi, Kapil Sibal cited reporting by some of the world’s best-known newspapers, including The New York Times and The Guardian. He asked if these media houses were “pro-Pakistan”.

The result of the alleged counter-terrorism operation in Balakot has been a topic of political debate in India — Mamata Banerjee asked for details last week, citing media reports that either said there were no deaths, or that one person has been killed, reported IndiaToday.

Asked about the West Bengal chief minister’s remarks, former union minister P. Chidambaram said at the India Today Conclave that he was prepared to believe the government, but “the world cannot be asked to suspend disbelief”.

He said it was the political party behind the government which had fed the news that over 300 or 350 jihadis were killed, and praised the Air Force and the External Affairs Ministry for what he said were restrained statements.

“As a proud citizen, I am prepared to believe my government. But if we want the world to believe, the government must make the effort, not indulge in Opposition-bashing,” Chidambaram tweeted on Monday.

Also on Monday, former union minister Manish Tewari, also a Congressman, criticised Amit Shah for saying 250 terrorists were killed in Balakot when the Air Force said it was early to assess casualties.

“Is this not milking airstrikes for politics?” he asked.