In the wee hours of February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force sent a fleet of Mirage 2000s to blow into smithereens pre-determined targets across the border, deep inside Pakistan to avenge the loss of 40 CRPF personnel martyred in a terror attack executed by a JeM cadre on February 14, 2019, near Pulwama in Kashmir.
In response to the brazen attack on the CRPF convoy orchestrated by Jaish-e-Muhammad terror outfit, the IAF devised a reprisal attack, homing in on the JeM assets based in Pakistan. The target finalised was the JeM terror camp in Balakot that trained and sheltered around 200-300 terrorists.
The operation was planned and kept under utter secrecy for the fear of losing the ‘surprise’ factor, critical in the successful completion of such operations. To this end, the operation was code-named as Operation Bandar (Monkey). “In order to maintain secrecy and avoid getting the plans leaked out, the operation was code-named as Operation Bandar,” said defence personnel.
Without enunciating specific reasons for the chosen codename, according to the sources, the Monkey codename was chosen as they hold a special significance in India’s war culture as can be seen in Ramayana in which Lord Hanuman, clandestinely entered Lanka and set it on fire.
The attack was carried out at 3:30 am in the morning when the fleet of Mirage 2000s dropped 5 Spice 2000 bombs, out of which 4 penetrated the roof of the terror camp in Balakot killing hundreds of terrorists and wounding and maiming several others. Soon after, the Indian Air Force aircraft departed from the target location leaving the JeM terror camp smouldering.