BBC Hindi Footage Shows Balakot Madrasa Stands Intact, India’s Claims Under Question
Pakistan took international media and foreign diplomats to the site in Balakot which the Modi govt claims to have bombed.
On April 10, Wednesday, Pakistani authorities allegedly took representatives of international media houses and foreign diplomats to the site in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the Indian Air Force supposedly struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp on February 26 in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
General Asif Ghafoor, the director of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — the Pakistan Army’s media wing — tweeted: “A group of international media journalists mostly India based and ambassadors and defence attachés of various countries in Pakistan visited impact site of 26 February Indian air violation near Jabba, Balakot. Saw the ground realities anti to Indian claims for themselves.”
A group of international media journalists mostly India based and Ambassadors & Defence Attachés of various countries in Pakistan visited impact site of 26 February Indian air violation near Jabba, Balakot. Saw the ground realities anti to Indian claims for themselves. pic.twitter.com/XsONflGGVP
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) April 10, 2019
Ghafoor’s tweet only adds to Pakistan’s longstanding claims that Indian authorities and leaders had exaggerated the success of the Balakot airstrike. It’s not just Ghafoor, however, who makes this claim. BBC Hindi tweeted a video from the location, reporting: “We saw a crater in the ground. They pointed out to us that this was the place where the IAF dropped its payload. The area was deserted.” The correspondent added about the contentious Madrasa that was the supposed JeM camp, “I could hear the sound of children studying in the madrassa. We have some journalists and ambassadors with us too.”
A number of small children can be seen reciting a lesson inside the madrasa.
BBC EXCLUSIVE: पाकिस्तानी सेना की निगरानी में बीबीसी की टीम पहुंची बालाकोट के उस मदरसे के भीतर, जहां भारत ने हवाई हमले का दावा किया था… pic.twitter.com/5Zue9U8Ipe
— BBC News Hindi (@BBCHindi) April 10, 2019
Per an AFP report, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab said that open-source satellite imagery indicated “only impacts in the wooded area, with no damage being visible to the surrounding structures”.
Ghafoor claimed that anyone could visit the madrassa at any time. He said, “You can see that this is an average building, an old construction. It has not been damaged at any place. There is no truth in what the Indians are saying.”
While the Indian Armed Forces did not directly claim the number of casualties or the exact impact of the Balakot airstrike, BJP leaders have made tall, unverified claims related to the outcome of the action. Party president Amit Shah had said that “over 250 terrorists” had been killed in the airstrike, a remark that caused outrage and was seen as politicisation of the armed forces by the leader of a political party.