Interesting details are beginning to emerge on the mysterious Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) seminary (madrasa) in Balakot, Pakistan. A new report quotes a family member of a student at Madrasa Taleem-ul-Quran as saying that it was Pakistan Army that evacuated the students after the IAF strike on February 27.
According to Indian Express, the family member further said that Pakistan Army had deployed its soldiers around the JeM seminary a week before the IAF strike. They were reportedly anticipating a retaliatory attack by India after 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide bombing attack in J&K's Pulwama district.
After the students were woken up by a loud sound in the wee morning hours of February, 26, they were immediately shifted to another location by the Pakistani Army.
The first account that has emerged directly from the JeM student's relative could destroy the claims of Pakistan's government and army that it has nothing to do with JeM operations in the country.
Pakistan Army was deployed near the JeM seminary after its photos were leaked, according to the report. The students were shifted in groups to undisclosed locations after which they were asked to leave for their homes.
"We offered our morning fajr prayers and were taken at once by the Pakistan fauji (Army). Not all of us were taken to the same house, some were taken to different locations. The students do not know exactly where the bomb explosion took place or who got killed," a student's relative added.
The student's family members are convincing him to not go back to the madrasa, but he doesn't want to listen. "We are telling him to get married here. But he wants to go back," the relative said.
No confirmation on the casualties yet?
The Indian government has refrained from commenting on the number of casualties due to the IAF strike, although initial reports suggested that around 250-300 militants were killed.
Contradicting the claims of BJP leaders that many terrorists died due to the strike, IAF chief Air Marshall BS Dhanoa said that they struck at strategic locations of Pakistan, which was the ulterior motive behind the attack and not the count of dead bodies.
"It is for the government to decide when to reveal the number of casualties that took place because of the strike," the IAF chief added.
Although, there is no word yet by the Narendra Modi government on when it would release the satellite/ radar images of Balakot that would confirm the IAF attack, the latest first-hand account of the students from JeM seminary will consolidate India's position.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has denied any damage to the structures or loss of lives as a result of the IAF strike and has said that India's Mirage 2000 jets dropped bombs at an uninhabited place in Balakot.