Unfazed Abhinandan rules the day in videos released by Pakistan

Mubarak Ansari
Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Videos circulated via social media depict his capture and composure

Pune -   Hours after one Indian Air Force (IAF) MIG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down and the pilot ejected falling in Pakistani-Occupied Kashmir on Wednesday morning, Pakistani Army released a 49 seconds video, confirming his capture. 

Blindfolded with blood on his face, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was calm, his voice clear as he spoke to his captors, who were recording the video.

He told them his name, gave them his service number, and identified himself as a Hindu. When a gruff demand for more details followed -- "What else?"

The fighter pilot replied : "I'm sorry sir...that's all I'm supposed to tell you." His politeness was not reciprocated. 

He was standing with remarkable composure and asked, “Am I with the Pakistani Army?" But he did not get the answer. 

However, the video released through Twitter was withdrawn within minutes, keeping in view the Geneva Convention dictating that a prisoner of war should not be shown publicly in a humiliating manner.

Few hours later, another video was found circulating on social media, of Abhinandan's capture. It could be seen that he was lying in a stream with no blood on face. Some people in civil clothes beat him and men uniform dragged him away. 

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement in which the pilot was not named but said that he was missing in action and that they were 'ascertaining the facts' after Pakistan claimed that he was in its custody.

Hours later, the Pakistan Army released another video, lasting 1.19 minutes, where the pilot was seen drinking tea, cleaned up but with his face bruised and eyes swollen. The officer again answered questions with composure and displayed no fear.

To most queries, he said he is sorry as he is not supposed to divulge any details. "I hope you like the tea," the interrogator asked eventually. "It is fantastic," the IAF pilot answered.

He refused to even reveal the name of the aircraft he was flying, coyly adding that the Pak military would be able to find that out from the wreckage.

Attitude Matters! 
What is the primary requirement to be a good fighter pilot? "Bad attitude," a young Abhinandan had said in 2011 when he was asked by the hosts of Rocky & Mayur TV show. He was a flight lietenent flying a Sukhoi back then. 

"I trust Dusty (co-pilot) with my life, and he trusts mine. That’s our training. And this is blind faith. No two ways about it," he had said.

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