The identity of the Indian pilot captured by Pakistan was revealed on February 28th.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is the captured pilot. As reported by the Times of India, his father is retired Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, who last served as Eastern Air Command Chief.
There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics: DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor#PakistanArmyZindabad #PakistanAirForceOurPride #PakistanZindabad 🇵🇰 pic.twitter.com/NwfKELb2Tv
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) February 27, 2019
Abdhinandan was first commissioned as a fighter pilot in 2004. His mother is a doctor. He is reported to be in his mid-30s.
India summoned the deputy high commissioner of Pakistan and demanded immediate and safe return of the IAF pilot. India also warned Pakistan against causing any harm to the Indian defense personnel.
Numerous political figures in India also expressed their support to the pilot’s family and friends and reiterated their support of his release.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted the following:
🇮🇳 I’m sorry to hear that one of our brave IAF pilots is missing. I hope he will return home soon, unharmed. We stand by our armed forces in these difficult times. 🇮🇳
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 27, 2019
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said Pakistan should treat the pilot “as you would have us treat one of your men in uniform should he be unfortunate enough to be captured on this side of the border.”
Thoughts with the family, friends & colleagues of #WingCommanderAbhinandan. Prayers for his early & safe return home to all those eagerly waiting for him.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 27, 2019
In a joint statement, leaders of 21 parties condemned the Pakistani “misadventure” and expressed their “deep concern for the safety of our missing pilot”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the whole country “is proud of this brave son and everyone is hoping for his safe return.”
I pray for the safety of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan.
Whole country is proud of this brave son and everyone is hoping for his safe return. We all stand united to keep our country safe and strong
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 27, 2019
On February 28th, Hindustan Times reported that Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Mike Pompeo told Ajit Doval that the US supported India’s decision to take target terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
On February 26th, Pompeo spoke with both Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Following the talks, he released the following statement:
“Following Indian counter-terrorism actions on February 26, I spoke with Indian Minister of External Affairs Swaraj to emphasise our close security partnership and shared goal of maintaining peace and security in the region.
I also spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi to underscore the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action, and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil.”
According to the outlet, several days earlier US National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke with Ajit Doval over the phone. In the conversation, Bolton said that the US supports India’s right to defend itself from terror groups.
Pakistani Water Minister Faisal Vavda posed with the flag of Pakistan on the wreckage of a MiG-21bis UPG (Bison) fighter of the Indian Air Force shot down by the Pakistani Air Force over the Control Line between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir.
Furthermore, Initially, Pakistani Air Force announced that another Indian fighter was shot down, “fallen in the Indian-occupied part of Kashmir”, however, there is no evidence of this.
In turn, the Indian news agency ANI spread the information that the allegedly MiG-21bis UPG (Bison) fighter of the Indian Air Force, using a short-range R-73E missile air-to-air, shot down the Pakistani F-16 fighter, as if falling in the Lam Valley in the Pakistani part of Kashmir. However, there is also no evidence of this.
Also on the morning of February 27, in the Indian part of Kashmir, about 100 km from the Line of Control, the Mi-17V-5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed out of Srinagar. All 6 crew members died and one civilian on the ground. It is unclear whether the incident was due to hostile actions from the Pakistani side.
Then on February 27th, Times of India posted an infographic showing the Indian side of the incident.
There are multiple pictures released by the Pakistani side and showing wreckages of the airplane, as well as videos the Indian pilot being captured. There are also pictures of the personal belongings of the Wing Commander that were seized.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- India Claims It Shot Down One Pakistani Jet, Lost MIG-21 Fighter Jet In Border Confrontation
- Brief Overview Of Pakistani-Indian Conflict On February 26-27 (Map)