Hailing from Chennai, Abhinandan Varthaman has been a fighter pilot with the IAF for the last 16 years and was an established Sukhoi-30 fighter pilot before he joined the 51 Squadron. An Air Force kid himself, Abhinandan was brought up respecting the principles of the armed forces, since his father is also an Air Force veteran.
Tensions between India and Pakistan reached high on Wednesday as the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in a press bring on Wednesday afternoon, confirmed that an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot has gone missing in action and has acknowledged that Pakistan has claimed that the pilot is in their captivity. The captured IAF pilot is Abhinandan Varthaman, a MiG 21 Bison pilot.
This comes after the conflict between Indian and Pakistan escalated on Wednesday after the Pakistan Air Force violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Nowshera sectors. While Indian officials said that a Pakistani Air Force F-16 fighter jet was shot down in Jammu, Pakistan has claimed to have shot down two IAF aircraft and arrested two pilots.
Who is Abhinandan Varthaman?
Born to noted Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, who retired as the Air-Officer-Commanding of the Eastern Command in Shillong in 2012, Abhinandan appeared in an episode of ‘Jai Hind’ in 2011, which was telecasted on NDTV Good Times. Holding a title of Flight Lieutenant at the time, he had said that it takes “bad attitude” to be a good Sukhoi pilot. He further added that there were no two ways about “blind faith” and trust that officers place on their co-pilots and the training they receive when they join the force.
According to reports, the detained Indian pilot is said to be the son of a retired Air Marshall and was flying an MiG 21 Bison jet on Wednesday that was shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) with the pilot taken into custody.
Pakistan has claimed that the the missing Varthaman is in their custody and is being treated well.
Pakistan has put out a video of the captured IAF pilot, claiming that two IAF pilots have been captured by them. Pakistan’s Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, “Two Indian pilots were taken into custody and they are being treated well: one is injured and is being provided proper medical care.” India has however not said anything about a second pilot.
If the video is to be believed, then the blindfolded man wearing military apparel is Abhinandan Varthaman. Abhinandan has his hands tied from behind and he is also bleeding from the nose. The pilot in the video states, “I have got hurt.”
He continues saying that, “My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. My service number is 27981. I’m a flying pilot. My religion is Hindu.”
He is then prompted once more, to which he replies, “I’m sorry sir, that’s all I am allowed to tell you.” Someone asks, “Squadron?” to which the ‘captured’ man says, “I’m not supposed to tell you that no.”
The video concludes with the man saying, “May I request a little information? Am I with the Pakistani army?”