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'Cold blooded murder' of IAF pilot Ajay Ahuja by Pak troops during Kargil conflict

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New Delhi, Feb 27: With the Ministry of External Affairs confirming that the IAF pilot of the MiG-21 fighter which shot down Pakistan's F-16 is missing, one must recall what happened during 1999s Kargil conflict when Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja's MiG-21MF fighter was hit by a Surface-to-Air missile FIM-92 Stinger.

Ajay Ahuja

According to the data released by the Indian Air Force, Ahuja's aircraft had been within the Indian side of the Line of Control when he ejected. But he was captured by the Pakistani forces. A post-mortem examination conducted at the Srinagar Base Hospital claimed that Ahuja had landed safely after ejecting from his plane, but had been killed later by Pakistani soldiers.

Recounting the capture of IAF pilot K Nachiketa during Kargil war

On 27th May, 1999, he was planned to lead a two aircraft mission for Photo reconnaissance of enemy positions in the Batalik Sector. As he was getting airborne he was informed that Flt Lt Nachiketa had ejected in the vicinity of Muntho Dhalo. Squadron Leader Ahuja immediately realized the necessity of locating and recovering the downed pilot. He changed his mission profile and set course towards Muntho Dhalo. Despite being told that surface to air missile were being fired in the area, Squadron Leader Ahuja carried out orbits to try and pinpoint the location of the crashed aircraft and pilot. He sent his No.2 back to base but himself continued the search, ignoring the threat to his own life.

By sheer perseverance, he was able to locate the possible crash site and transmitted this information to the rescue helicopters. Unfortunately, at this stage, his own aircraft was hit by a surface to air missile. With exemplary presence of mind and cool professionalism he attempted to nurse the air craft towards a safer area. But when the aircraft engine flamed out Squadron Leader Ahuja had no choice but to eject. He ejected safely and had the presence of mind to transmit his last recorded ground position.

On 28th May, 1999 the body of Squadron Leader Ahuja was handed over to Indian authorities. The body bore two bullet injuries. It was reported that the left knee fracture was sustained when he parachuted down, but the gunshots show that he landed alive and was shot. And his death was called as a cold blooded murder. Squadron Leader Ahuja was conferred with Vir Chakra posthumously on August 15, 1999.

Earlier today, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed that India shot down one Pakistani F-16 and in the process lost one MiG-21 Bison fighter, the pilot of which is missing.

"One Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by Indian Air Force. In this engagement we have lost one MiG 21. Pilot is lost in action. Pakistan claims he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts," he said at the media briefing.

India's MiG-21 shot down Pak's F-16, IAF pilot missing: MEA confirms

He said that Pakistani fighter was seen going down by the ground staff in India and fell in Pakistani territory. MEA spokesperson said that the Pakistan has claimed to have missing IAF pilot in custody, adding, "We are still ascertaining facts."

A day after Indian Air Force (IAF) crossed the Line of Control (LOC) on Tuesday morning, Pakistan on Wednesday exhibited aggression along the LOC. India had earlier today shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet that violated the Indian air space in retaliatory fire 3km within Pakistan territory in Lam valley, Nowshera sector. Pakistan had claimed to have entered the Indian airspace and dropped bombs. Senior government officials said there were no reports of any casualty. A parachute was reportedly seen when the Pakistani jet went down but the fate of the pilot is unknown.

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