Unfolding the mystery over Pakistan’s F-16 pilot
New Delhi, Feb 28: New Delhi on Wednesday claimed to destroy a Pakistani fighter F-16 in an aerial engagement when Islamabad tried to target Indian military installations.
Addressing a press conference, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts."
News Agency ANI reported: "Pakistan Air Force's F-16 that violated Indian air space shot down in Indian retaliatory fire 3KM within Pakistan territory in Lam valley, Nowshera sector. Parachute seen as Pakistan Air Force's F-16 was going down, condition of the pilot is unknown".
Pakistani Army, however, refuted India's claim by saying that Pakistan didn't use F-16 fighter jets in the operation against India.
Pakistan also claimed its Air Force shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace and captured two Indian pilots.
In a tweet, Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said, "In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA, IAF crossed LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two (2nd) in the area.
In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA, IAF crossed LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area.— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 27, 2019
Impeccable sources tell One India that the hospitalised pilot was not an Indian pilot but the pilot of Pakistan's F-16, which was shot down by India's MiG 21 fighter jet.
Sources say that Pakistani F-16 pilot was severely injured and his uniform was torn when he landed on the ground.
"To make the matters worse, the locals considered him of being an Indian pilot and beat him up very badly till he fell unconscious. Local police took him to the hospital, and the army was informed that an Indian pilot has been captured. Probably, this is the reason that without ascertaining the fact the Pakistani army claimed capturing two Indian pilots in order to address the emotions of Pakistanis," said the source.
When the Pakistani Army realised its mistake then in the evening it said that only one Indian Pilot was in its custody.
Major General Asif Ghafoor at 6:19 PM on Wednesday tweeted: "There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics."
Pakistan Army also released a video in which a man was purportedly seen as saying that "I am Wing Commander Abhinandan, I am IAF officer. My service No is 27 981". It is notable that Wing Commander Abhinandan was also beaten up by the locals before being captured by the Pakistani military.
Another tale of Wing Commander Abhinandan's patriotism and Courage
Pakistani newspaper Dawn has published a story which shows the presence of mind, patriotism, and exemplary courage of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
When he landed on the ground with the help of a parachute then a mob circled him.
As per the story, the Wing Commander first asked the mob whether he was in India or Pakistan. When a clever Pakistani boy told him that it was India then "Wing Commander Abhinandan shouted some slogan (Bharat Mata ki Jai) and asked which place exactly it was in India. Then some emotional youth, who could not digest Wing Commander Abhinandan's slogans, shouted Pakistani army zindabad".
Realising that he had landed in the Pakistani territory, Wing Commander Abhinandan pulled up his pistol to threaten the mob that was chasing him and jumped into a pond and "took out some documents and maps from his pockets, some of which he tried to swallow and soaked others in water".
It was Wing Commander Abhinandan's courage that saved his life otherwise he might have been killed or would have landed in a hospital like the pilot of Pakistani F-16.
He was rescued by Pakistani Army. Later Pakistani media played a video in which Wing Commander Abhinandan was blindfolded and injured, but his trademark courage was intact in an enemy country. When he was being interrogated then he gave only his name, service number and identified himself as a Hindu. When more information was sought, Wing Commander Abhinandan replied coolly: "I'm sorry sir...that's all I'm supposed to tell you."
India has registered strong protest the way Pakistan violated the Geneva Convention in the case of Wing Commander Abhinandan. According to the Geneva Convention, no captured soldier should be paraded, photographed or filmed.