181120 Narendra Modi 4
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew sharp criticism after he disclosed that his decisive ‘go ahead’ prior to the Balakot strike was based on the presumption that clouds and rain would help Indian jets escape radar detection.

A video that went viral on Twitter shows the PM talking to Indian TV channel News Nation about the airstrike India conducted in Pakistan in February.

Modi said: “The weather suddenly turned bad, there were clouds... heavy rain. There was a doubt about whether we can go in the clouds.”

Modi did acknowledge that he was not an expert: “During a review (of the Balakot plan), by and large the opinion of experts was – what if we change the date. I had two issues in mind. One was secrecy... second, I said I am not someone who knows the science. I said there is so much cloud and rain. There is a benefit. I have a raw wisdom, the clouds can benefit us too. We can escape the radar. Everyone was confused. Ultimately I said there are clouds... let’s proceed.”

On February 26, Indian Air Force jets pummelled a major Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. The government called it a “pre-emptive, non-military” strike, which was in retaliation of the 14 February Pulwama terror attack in which a JeM suicide attacker killed 40 CRPF personnel.

The opposition wasted little time in attacking. “On PM Modi’s radar and clouds comment, it seems no one clarified for the PM how radars work,” said Salman Soz, a Congressman. “If that is the case, then it is a very serious national security issue. No laughing matter!”

CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Modi’s words were “truly shameful” because they “insult our Air Force as being ignorant and unprofessional”.

Indian National Congress member @drshamamohd tweeted: “PM #Modi risked the lives of our IAF pilots by authorising airstrikes in bad weather because he believes radars can’t detect planes in cloud cover. Would you vote for a man who compares our armed forces to playing video games?”

The PM’s comment was also met with criticism and derision on social media.

Tweep @VishalDadlani posted: “.@narendramodi ji some humble advice from a citizen. Science is real. Please consult someone qualified before you speak, so you don’t embarrass India in the eyes of the world. At least until results are announced, you’re our PM. Have some concern for how India is regarded.”

And @rupasubramanya tweeted: “Modi tries so hard to grandstand but ends up scoring a self-goal by revealing he doesn’t know jets can’t hide behind clouds to escape radar. Pakistan is laughing... Embarrassing.”

What is RADAR?

Radar is an acronym for Radio Detecting And Ranging. Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain.