March 15, 2019
On a frigid Tuesday morning in Montreal, Tarini Gupta, an Indian student starting her fourth semester at McGill, woke to a torrent of WhatsApp messages. According to a forwarded message, India’s air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp in Balakot, Pakistan had killed 300 militants. “Jai Hind!” the text concluded. Following that broadcast, her aunts, uncles, and parents congratulated the Indian army.
On February 19, Indian warplanes had flown into Pakistani airspace to conduct airstrikes in Balakot. Pakistani sources contest India’s claim of 300 militants killed, stating that the attack happened in an uninhabited jungle. The facts remain unknown.
It was the gravest escalation of tensions between the neighboring nations in decades, a few days after a suicide bombing by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group JeM. The February 14 bombing killed 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir.