MEA Confirms IAF Pilot Missing In Action, Ascertaining Facts On Pakistan's Claims Of Pilots' Capture
The Ministry of External Affairs of the Indian government confirmed in an official statement that an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot is missing. The MEA also acknowledged that Pakistan has claimed that the said pilot is in their captivity, adding that the facts are being ascertained right now.
The said missing pilot, which Pakistan claims to have captured is one Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, a MiG 21 Bison pilot, as per early reports.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in the official statement that Pakistan responded to the counter-terrorism action by the Indian Air Force against the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on February 26. Kumar said that the Pakistan Air Force responded by “targetting military installations on the Indian side”. He, however, added that since the Indian side was expecting a similar attack and hence was already prepared. “The Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly. 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,” the MEA spokesperson said.
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) February 27, 2019
Earlier in the day, Major General Asif Ghafoor, the Director General (DG) of the Inter-Services Public Relations said, “Two pilots were taken into custody and they are being treated well; one is injured and has been admitted in CMS, while the other is in the custody.”
DG ISPR Press Conference – 27 February 2019https://t.co/anxo3UBMu3
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 27, 2019
A video also has been released by the Radio Pakistan. This video purportedly shows captured Indian Air Force pilot. The video shows him to be blindfolded with his hands tied behind. Upon being prompted the alleged captured pilot introduces himself as Abhinandan and gives his service number. He also further says that he is a flying pilot and that his religion is Hindu. When prompted to give further information, the pilot says that he cannot reveal any more information. He asks whether he is with the Pakistani Army, to which a reply is rendered, “yes”. The authenticity of the video remains to be ascertained.
Pakistani PM Imran Khan has also released a series of videos saying Pakistan is still open for dialogue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan offers India to settle issues through dialogue.
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) February 27, 2019
After the airstrike from the Indian Air Force on February 26, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets violated Indian air space to target military installations on the Indian side, as reported by The Times of India. On the other hand, two persons were killed in a Mi-17 chopper crashed in Budgam. However, Maj Gen Ghafoor in media briefing said that Pakistan had no engagement with Indian aircraft which resulted in a crash on the Indian side.