The burden of proof always rests on the claimant.
This is one of the most basic principles of logic. The person or party making a claim has to provide substantial evidence backing that claim, irrespective of any counter-claims made.
But things are never this simple in international diplomacy, especially when it comes to India-Pakistan relations.
The discussion around the evidence for the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army against terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has intensified. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had asked the Narendra Modi government to "unmask Pakistan's false propaganda" in a video message and Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam openly said that he felt that the strike was "fake".
It has to be noted that politics over an issue of national security is never constructive. Additionally, there is always a level of secrecy involved with such operations. Evidence cannot be disclosed immediately after the operation. A reason why India may not have done that could have been to avoid escalating tension with Pakistan.
Another reason would have been the security of the personnel involved in the strikes (more on this later).
But despite the complications involved in releasing sensitive information as evidence, the Indian government obviously realises its burden of proof and thus, India is set to provide strong evidence to show that the surgical strikes did, in fact, take place.
The most solid evidence
Let's start off with the most solid evidence that the surgical strikes did take place. Nothing can be a bigger proof of the strikes than video footage. According to this report in The Economic Times, the Indian armed forces have now given a green signal to the government to use the video footage from the surgical strikes in any manner required to substantiate India's claims.
Moreover, responding to a query on doubts raised by Pakistan over the operation as India did not release the footage of the operation, Home Minister Rajnath has said, “Just wait and watch."
BJP leaders have also said that the strike video will be out soon, reported CNN-News18.
It is now up to the Prime Minister's Office to decide on what to do with the video footage. Needless to say, India seems to have a strong footing when it comes to footage of the strikes.
A report in The Quint also states that sensitive parts of the video, which could have revealed the identity of the personnel involved in the strikes or given an idea about the locations which the strike team could have traversed through, have been removed. This also gives an idea on why India did not release the video footage immediately after the attack.
As mentioned earlier, releasing the video footage could have harmed the security of the armed forces personnel involved in the strikes.
The second solid evidence is the account of the eyewitnesses across the LoC. According to The Indian Express, these eyewitnesses gave graphic accounts of the surgical strikes.
"The most detailed account of the fighting" came from two eyewitnesses in Dudhnial, a hamlet four kilometres deep into the LoC. One of the eyewitnesses reported seeing a gutted building across the Al-Haawi bridge, which is the last point where infiltrating terror groups are located with supplies before they begin their journey to the LoC.
The report added that local residents told one of the eyewitnesses that loud explosions were heard across the Al-Haawi bridge.
Local residents also told the eyewitnesses that five six bodies were loaded on a truck the morning after the strikes and transported possibly to the nearest Laskhar camp at Chalhana.
Even before the Indian armed forces' green signal for the video footage or the eyewitnesses' accounts, there had been reports suggesting that there was evidence to show that the strikes did take place.
According to this Zee News report, the bodies of slain terrorists had secretly been buried in areas near the scene of the operation. Sources had also told ABPLive that satellite images had shown that terrorists had been killed in the surgical strikes. Security officials had said that the Cartosat series of satellites had been used for strategic purposes.
Another report in The Asian Age, published on 2 October, had said that top security sources had revealed that India had "credible evidence" of the surgical strikes. And that evidence was not restricted to videos and photographs.
"Intelligence agencies also got wireless intercepts of terror operatives discussing about the strikes carried out by the Indian Army at four locations in Lipa, Kel, Tatapani (Hotspring) and Bhimber," said the report.
With inputs from agencies