India to Raise Ballon Issue with Pakistan


New Delhi: Days after a balloon was spotted and shot down by the IAF in Rajasthan, reports said on Thursday that India will raise the issue with Pakistan. The balloon had reportedly come from Pakistan.

“The Defence Ministry has written to the MEA and we will raise it (the issue) with Pakistan,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. A US-made helium-filled balloon was shot down by a Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft.

It could have been an attempt to gauge India’s response time, top government sources said. The shiny 3 metres in diametre balloon, with “Happy Birthday” written on it, was flying at a height of about 25,000 feet in Jaisalmer district when it was picked up by the air force radars which were on high alert in view of Republic Day celebrations.

The Indian Air Force had said in a statement yesyerday, “Due to heightened security alert, the balloon was shot down as it would have been carrying unknown payload. However, on analysis of the debris it was established that there was no dangerous payload.”

Meanwhile, government sources had also said that balloon, made by an American company, was flying at an altitude higher than that of an helicopter (18,000 feet) and hence leaving nothing to chance, it was shot down. The wind speed was also high and the threat level was high.