Eyewitnesses account of dogfight between Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s MIG-21 & F-16

dogfight

The Hush Post| 13.48 pm |two-minute-read|

The severely hurtling noise in the air above sought everyone’s attention towards a clear blue sky. Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry was in the courtyard of his house in Horra’n village, located about 7km from the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’s Bhimber district.

At about 8:45am on Wednesday the smoke and sound made him realise that the two fighter planes were taking on each other. In the parlance of air force this is called dogfight.

In one of the fighter planes was Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthman who in his last radio transmission said: “R-173 selected.” He then let loose the air-to-air missile on the Pakistani F-16. In the melee something hit his plane as well.

Outside, 58-year-old political and social activist of the area Razzaq noticed that two aircraft had caught fire. While still burning, one of them sped across the LoC, the other burst into flames and came down. The wreckage fell about a kilometre away from the house of Razzaq. People at a distance noticed and told one another, “It’s a parachute coming down.”

“A pilot emerged out of the parachute,” he told the Dawn newspaper from Horra’n village by telephone.

In the meantime, Razzaq made calls to several youngsters in the village and asked them not to go close to the wreckage until the army arrives. However, they should get hold of the pilot.

The pilot was equipped with a pistol, asked the youngsters whether it was India or Pakistan. On this, one of them, in order to mislead, responded that it was India. The pilot, later identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan, shouted pro-India slogans and asked which place exactly it was in India.

To this, the same boy responded that it was Qilla’n. The pilot told them that his “back was broken” and he needed water. Some youth, who could not digest the slogans, shouted ‘Pakistan army zindabad’ slogans. On this, Abhinandan shot fire in the air while the boys picked up stones in their hands.

Razzaq says the Indian pilot ran about half a kilometre in the other direction while pointing his pistol towards the boys who chased him.

During this brisk movement, he fired some more gunshots in the air to frighten them. Then he jumped into a small pond where he took out some documents and maps from his pockets, some of which he tried to swallow and soaked others in water.

The boys kept on asking him to drop his pistol and in the meanwhile, one boy shot at his leg, Razzaq said.

Finally, he came out. The boys got hold of him from both arms. Some of them roughed him up, in a fit of rage, while others kept on stopping them.

In the meanwhile, army personnel arrived and took the pilot into their custody and saved him from the wrath of the youths.

“Thank God, none of the furious boys shot him dead because he had given them quite a tough time,” Razzaq said. The detained pilot was then taken to an army installation in Bhimber in a convoy of military vehicles.

After the incident, the locals said that the pilot was unfazed and locals spoke in hush-hush tones about the composure of Wg Cdr Abhinandan, something people saw in various videos which went viral.

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