Wing Commander Abhinandan
- The 35-year-old Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was flying the MiG-21 Bison that shot down the PAF F-16 in the aerial engagement with Pakistan on Wednesday morning.
- Wing Commander Abhinandan will be brought by Pakistani authorities from Rawalpindi to Lahore and handed over first to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) under rules of the Geneva Convention before being brought to the check post to return home.
- Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor had said at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday that in the aerial combat that ensued on Wednesday morning one F-16 of the Pakistan Air Force was shot down by IAF’s MiG 21 Bison aircraft flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan.
- “The F-16 crashed and fell across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Air Force lost one MiG 21 aircraft. Though the pilot ejected safely, his parachute drifted into PoJ&K (Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir), where he was taken into custody by Pakistan army,” Air Vice-Marshal RGK Kapoor said.
- The aerial dogfight referred to by the air vice-marshal took place after PAF violated Indian airspace and attempted to target military installations following strike by IAF at a terror camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The terror camp was said to be the biggest run by Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Pakistan has not admitted to either having
crossed the LoC on Wednesday or using F-16 jets in the aerial dogfight.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his statements, has maintained
that PAF jets remained on the Pakistani side of the LoC. He did not
refer to the use of F-16 jets.
- However, Air Vice-Marshal Kapoor said there was enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission through their electronic signatures. “Parts of AMRAAM, air to air missile which is carried only on the Pakistani F-16s was recovered east of Rajouri within the Indian territory,” he said.
- The IAF targeted the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in a pre-dawn operation on Tuesday. India said the operation was carried out on the basis of “credible” intelligence inputs that Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning to carry out more terror attacks in India.
- Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack, in which a CRPf convoy was targeted by a suicide bomber on February 14 killing 40 soldiers.
- Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has offered to receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Attari border in Amritsar district when the IAF pilot arrives on Friday after being released by Pakistan.
- The Congress leader tweeted his request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Pakistan PM Imran Khan's announcement that the IAF pilot would be released on March 1.
- "Dear @narendramodi ji, I'm touring the border areas of Punjab & I'm presently in Amritsar. Came to know that @pid_gov has decided to release #AbhinandanVartaman from Wagha. It will be a honour for me to go and receive him, as he and his father are alumnus of the NDA as I am," Singh wrote.
Meanwhile, official sources said in New Delhi that a delegation of IAF will on Friday receive Wing Commander Varthaman at the Wagah border.
- Arthaman's MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning. He has been in Pakistan since then.
- The chief minister arrived here this evening as part of his visit to border areas to take stock of situation and instill confidence among the people in the wake of heightened tensions.
- "Amaridner Singh has offered to receive Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the border on his arrival from Pakistan," the Chief Minister's Officer said in a statement.
Wing Commander Abhinandan's father S Varthaman retired as an Air Marshall.
- The chief minister later said it was a spontaneous gesture on his part and a desire that came from his heart, given the prevailing situation.
- Amarinder had earlier, in an informal interaction with mediapersons in Jalandhar, welcomed the announcement of the Pakistani prime minister and termed the decision to release Abhinandan a goodwill gesture that could help ease the tensions at the border.
- Following reports of the IAF pilot's capture by Pakistan, the Chief Minister had urged the Indian government to take all possible steps to secure his early release. He had also urged Pakistan to ensure the officer's safety and wellbeing as per the Geneva Conventions.