Toronto, March 1: Pakistan announced that it would be handing over Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured by them after his Mig-21 aircraft crashed into the PoK on February 27 post an aerial engagement with a PAF F-16. Videos of his capture and bloodied face were tweeted out by verified Pakistani accounts that gave India a glimpse into how the Indian Air Force pilot was faring in the hands of the enemy.
The first video showed him first identifying his rank and name and asking if he was with the Pakistani army. “I am Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and my serial number is…Am I with the Pakistani Army?”
This video was soon followed by another which showed him being captured by some men in army fatigues, pulled and dragged on the ground and then being punched by them.
A third video followed hours later which showed him sipping tea and said that he had been treated like a soldier should be by his Pakistani counterparts.
A report in the BBC has filled in the dots of the ensuing hours between Wing Commander Varthaman crashing into PoK followed by the first video where he identified himself.
The BBC spoke to the village chief of Horran village where the IAF pilot landed after ejecting from his plane which had been hit by a Pakistani strike.
Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry, 58 years old of Horran village said he realised that an Indian pilot had landed as he saw the tricolour on Varthaman’s parachute. Chaudhary said "My objective was to capture the pilot alive. I had seen the Indian flag on his parachute and knew he was Indian." He said he rushed to the spot as he saw the Mig-21 falling from the sky and the pilot ejecting and floating down towards his village.
He said he rushed to the spot where he saw other village men go. "I was afraid they will harm him or he would harm them," said Chaudhry, who said he belongs to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI party. On reaching the site, he heard the pilot ask the villagers where he was. No one answered so he reportedly asked again if he was in India - and one of the youngsters lied to him, said yes he was in India.
Chaudhary reported that Varthaman then began shouting patriotic slogans for India to which the young men around him countered with ‘Pakistan Zindabad.’
Realising he had landed in enemy territory, Varthaman then pulled out his service pistol to scare away the growing crowd around him. He then started running backwards, pointing the gun at the crowd.
The crowd gave chase. Varthaman then reached a stream and pulled out some papers that he tried to destroy by soaking them and then trying to swallow them. Chaudhary said, "The boys chased him until he fell into a stream and one of my nephews who was also armed shot him in the leg." Chaudhry added, "My nephew asked him to drop his pistol, which he did. Then someone else caught him and pinned him down to prevent him from using any other weapon that he might have."
Chaudhary finished with, "Our boys were angry and continued to force their way closer to him to punch and slap him, though some of them tried to stop the aggressors. I also told them not to harm him, to leave him alone until the army officers arrived."
This explains the bloodied face that Varthaman was sporting in the first video that was released by Pakistani accounts. This video has since been removed from Twitter. Read: Indian Pilot To Return From Pakistan Tomorrow; Here's How Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, WB CM Mamata Banerjee And Others Reacted.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be handed over to India on March 1 at the Wagah border. He will be received by a team of Indian Air Force officers.