Outrage as Indian minister suggests opponents be ‘tied under jets’

The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the opposition. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 06 March 2019
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Outrage as Indian minister suggests opponents be ‘tied under jets’

  • The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Modi’s Hindu nationalist party with the opposition

NEW DELHI: Indian opposition leaders who question the country’s bombing raid on Pakistan last week should be tied under fighter jets and dropped like bombs when they stage a new mission, a government minister said Wednesday.
The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the opposition over its claims that he has used the military strike to boost his standing ahead of a national election.
The BJP has given conflicting accounts about the success of the air raid on a militant camp run by a group blamed for a February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir that left 40 Indian paramilitaries dead.
Twelves days later Indian jets bombed what New Delhi called a “terrorist” training camp inside Pakistan territory taking the neighbors to the verge of a new war.BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, claimed up to 250 people were killed in the cross-border raid. But the opposition has demanded the toll be backed up and accused Modi of making political capital out of the attacks.
“I think when India does something (like this) again then the people from opposition parties raising these questions can be tied under the jets during the raids so that they can look at the targets,” junior foreign minister V.K Singh told media.
“They can look at the targets when the bombs are fired and then can also be dropped (there) to count before coming back,” Singh added.
After the raid, the Indian government said “a very large number” of Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, commanders and trainers had been “eliminated.”
But no official figure on the damage has ever been given and Pakistan has denied there were any casualties.
With a national election to be called imminently, Modi’s BJP has still touted the mission at political rallies across the country.
“The government under Modi’s leadership carried out the air strike and killed more than 250 terrorists,” Shah, one of Modi’s closest lieutenants, told one rally this week.
SS Ahluwalia, a junior minister, came up with a different claim earlier however, saying the raids were intended to give a lesson and not kill anyone.
The differing accounts have increased demands that the government clarify its toll.
“PM Modi has blatantly politicized the bravery and martyrdom of India’s soldiers as a political pamphlet,” said Randeep Singh Surjewala, spokesman for the main opposition Congress party.
Modi “is indulging in shameless credit-seeking for the valour of armed forces as a last resort for the 2019 elections,” Surjewala added on Twitter.
A heated exchange between a top Modi cabinet minister, Piyush Goyal, and a television journalist went viral earlier this week.
The journalist, citing international media reports, asked Goyal why the government has not given more details to back its claims of the mission’s success.
Goyal said such questions were part of a “shameful” campaign “to belittle our armed forces.”


China says Maldives is not ‘mired in a Chinese debt trap’

Updated 25 min 35 sec ago

China says Maldives is not ‘mired in a Chinese debt trap’

  • The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party fears the debts to China could run as high as $3 billion
  • The Indian Ocean island chain has been caught in a battle for influence between India and China

BEIJING: The Maldives are not “mired in a Chinese debt trap,” the Chinese government’s top diplomat told the visiting Maldivian foreign minister, amid fears in the Indian Ocean country of debts as high as $3 billion owing to Beijing.

The Indian Ocean island chain has been caught in a battle for influence between India and China, which invested millions of dollars during the rule of the pro-China former leader Abdulla Yameen as part of China’s Belt and Road plan, designed to improve its global trade reach.

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party, which won a landslide in the archipelago’s parliamentary election in April, fears the debts to China could run as high as $3 billion and risk sinking the economy.

Meeting Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid in Beijing, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said China’s cooperation with the Maldives would not be affected by the change of government, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement late on Friday.

“China’s cooperation with the Maldives aims to promote the well-being of the Maldivian people, without political intentions and without seeking geopolitical interests,” the ministry cited Wang as saying.

China provides what help it can to the Maldives without attaching political preconditions, and does not interfere in the its internal affairs, Wang added.

“It is totally without basis to say that ‘the Maldives is mired in a Chinese debt trap’,” he said. The Chinese statement quoted Shahid as saying no country in the world had been as generous to helping the Maldives, pointing to the building of infrastructure and “provision of a large amount of aid and loans.”

“In this regard, there is absolutely no so-called ‘debt trap’. To say that is complete nonsense.” China has been stung by criticism, mostly from Western countries, that it loads up poor, developing nations with unsustainable debt they have no hope of paying back, and that it is seeking to use this to leverage political influence.

China says its loans are much welcomed and much needed, and points out that it provides them with no political pre-conditions and gives funds to places that Western donors ignore.