In 1999, amid the Kargil War, a flight lieutenant, Kambampati Nachiketa, was captured by Pakistan. He was in Pakistani custody for eight days which was spent under immense mental and physical torture.
Nachiketa was captured by the Pakistani forces when the fighter plane he was flying developed engine failure and he had to eject from an altitude of 18,000 ft.
Squadron leader Ajay Ahuja was looking for the flight lieutenant after he saw Kambampati Nachiketa eject from the flight. Ajay was, however, shot down as a Pakistani missile hit his MiG 21 jet. India then lost another pilot, Ajay.
Ajay Ahuja’s squadron was under the command of then Wing Commander BS Dhanoa- the present IAF chief.
Earlier, Pakistan made a sensational claim that during an aerial engagement on Wednesday, two India jets had been shot down and two Indian pilots were in Pakistan’s custody. Later, Pakistan retracted and said that it has just one Indian pilot- Abhinandan Varthaman- in their custody.
Although Pakistan will not be able to do anything to the Indian pilot as per the rules of the Geneva Convention on the POWs. Pakistan has to do humanitarian treatment with the Indian pilot.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, accompanied by Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, said details are being ascertained about Pakistan’s claim of having captured one Indian pilot.
“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,” he said.
Under the Geneva Convention, prepared in 1949 after World War II, the POWs can not be intimidated or insulted in any way. On being caught, the provision of providing names, military posts and numbers to the warlords has been made. POWs can either be prosecuted or returned after the war. The purpose of Geneva Treaty and rules was to maintain human values at the time of the war. Although some countries have violated the Geneva Treaty.
Former Air Force veterans have expressed the hope of a safe return of the Wing Commander. Former Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha has said that it is a collateral damaged in the event of war and it is expected that Pakistan will not violate the violation of the ceasefire policy. Raha said that although Pakistan does not follow the Geneva treaty at all times, I do not think that Pakistan will dare to do such a foolish act this time. At present, the entire international community is keeping an eye on the situation. If Pak does anything like that then it will be in big trouble.
Air Force chief BS Dhanoa is no stranger to such a situation – of losing his men to enemy forces. He will be sure to recall the last time one of his men was captured in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, cross-border tension continues to brew over the capture of Abhinandan Varthaman.
“Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics,” Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor has said.
India has cautioned Pakistan: ‘Give our soldier back’.
There have been several high-level meetings in India. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have met the three Services Chiefs.
The Prime Minister has met NSA Ajit Dorval, Air Chief Marshal BS Dharna and Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat and all possible options on retaliatory strikes are being worked out.
The three defence services are understood to have been given “a free hand” to finalise their future course of action after Pakistan’s violation of Indian airspace and international laws.
India summoned Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner to lodge strong protest. India also handed over to Pakistan a dossier on “specific details” of involvement of the Jaishe-Mohammad (JeM) in the Pulwama terror attack on the CRPF as also the presence of camps of the UN-proscribed terror outfit in that country.
“It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
IAF has upgraded its security alert to the highest level.