Hyderabad: Abhinandan is a student of Sainik Welfare School, Amatavatinagar in Chennai. The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the wing commander going ‘missing in action’ at 3.30pm on Wednesday in a media briefing.
Fifteen years into service, Officer Abhinandan Varthaman was promoted to Wing Commander. He is married to Squadron Lieutenant Tanvi Marwaha (retired) and they have a young son.
“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,” Raveesh Kumar, MEA spokesperson said.
The news of the Pakistan Army taking Wg Cmdr Abhinandan Varthaman into custody broke when their official handle released the first video mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
In a short clip, the pilot was seen blindfolded and wounded, his arms tied behind his back, being interrogated. However, the videos were quickly taken down by Pakistan after it faced allegations of violating the Geneva Convention for prisoners.
Later in the evening, another video was released by the Pakistan military, where the pilot, with a swollen face was seen sipping tea and in conversation with Pakistani Army officials.
In the video he says: “I would like to put this on record and I won’t change my statement if I go back to my country (India). The officers of the Pakistan Army have looked after me very well. They are thorough gentlemen, starting from the captain who rescued me from the mob and his jawans. I am truly impressed by the Pak Army.”
When asked by his interrogator about his identity, he said, “I am from down south”. He also answered the question about his marriage.
He refused to divulge the kind and make of the aircraft he was flying and the mission he was deployed on. “I am sorry, Major. I am not supposed to tell you this,” the pilot said.