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Pakistan claims IAF fighter pilot in custody, releases video; India says ascertaining facts

Pakistani media on Wednesday showed a video of a blindfolded man dressed in flying overalls being questioned by Pakistani security officials, who claimed that he was an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot.

SNS | New Delhi |

Indian Air Force (IAF) lost a MiG 21 Bison aircraft in an engagement with Pakistani Air Force who had entered Indian airspace on Wednesday, the government said. The Indian statement came after Pakistani media showed a video of a blindfolded man dressed in flying overalls being questioned by Pakistani security officials. Pakistan claimed that the man is an IAF fighter pilot.

In a media briefing, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that it was “ascertaining the facts” behind the claim.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India lost a MiG 21 Bison aircraft which intercepted Pakistani fighter jets who entered Indian territory and the pilot was “missing in action” (MIA).

“One Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by Indian Air Force. In this engagement, we have lost one MiG 21. Pilot is missing in action. Pakistan claims he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” he said.

The government did not reveal the name of the pilot.

In the video that is doing the rounds of Pakistani media, the pilot is seen identifying himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan of the IAF. He gives out his service number and refuses to answer further questions. Pakistan also claimed that it has captured a second Indian pilot.

The video was released after a press conference by Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson of the Pakistan armed forces.

Earlier today, Pakistani Air Force jets violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri sector and dropped bombs but missed their targets. They were immediately pushed back by Indian jets on air patrol.

Reports had earlier today said that a Pakistani F-16 was shot down and its wreckage fell in Rajouri sector of Jammu region.

Pakistan had then claimed that it had shot down two IAF aircraft, of which the wreckage of one fell on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

Pakistan claimed the “strikes across Line of Control from within Pak airspace” and that its “purpose was to demonstrate the right to self-defence”.

“This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight,” the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, top Indian security and intelligence officials met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the ongoing security situation.

NSA Ajit Doval, senior officials of the Indian Navy, Army and the Air Force and other security officials, besides Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, were present in the meeting.