New Delhi (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been skewered by the opposition for going ahead with an airstrike in Pakistan on the mistaken belief that cloudy skies would help India’s air force avoid radar detection.
In a television interview broadcast Saturday, Modi said he used his “raw wisdom” in the operation, believing Indian aircraft would benefit from the cloud cover.
The opposition mocked Modi’s apparent lack of understanding of surveillance radar signals, which can easily pass through clouds, and for ignoring experts’ advice to delay the operation until the weather cleared.
Ajai Shukla, a military expert, tweeted that India should hang its head in shame for Modi perceiving that “cloud cover would help the aircraft” leave Pakistan’s air space without detection.
India’s staggered national elections are underway with the last day of voting set for May 19. Results are expected four days later.
Modi has used the airstrike as a major election issue to project strength in dealing with longtime nuclear-armed rival Pakistan.
Omar Abdullah, the opposition National Conference leader, tweeted sarcastically that “Pakistani radar doesn’t penetrate clouds. This is an important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future strikes.”
The strike came days after a suicide attack on Indian paramilitary forces in the Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers. Modi said the Indian air force hit a training camp run by Pakistan-based Jaishe-e-Mohammed, the militant group that claimed responsibility for the assault. Pakistan rejected India’s claim that the air strike caused heavy casualties at the site.
“National security is not something to be trifled with. Such an irresponsible statement from Modi is highly damaging. Somebody like him can’t remain India’s prime minister,” said Sitaram Yechury, a top Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader.
A senior leader in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Cabinet minister, Prakash Javadekar, while not addressing the gaffe itself, offered a defense of the prime minister’s comments on Monday.
“Modi did not reveal anything he was not supposed to reveal,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.