Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that he had warned Pakistan of consequences if they didn’t release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from their custody.
Addressing an election rally in Gujarat’s Patan, the PM said, “When Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan, I said (to Pakistan) that if anything happens to our pilot then we will not leave you.”
Wg Cdr Abhinandan was captured by Pakistani Army after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down by Pakistani Air Force (PAF) F-16 on 27 February during an aerial engagement. He was released by Pakistan on 1 March.
The PM’s remarks came a day after the Indian Air Force (IAF) recommended Wg Cdr Varthaman for the Vir Chakra – India’s third-highest wartime military decoration. The IAF pilot will therefore be the first soldier to be honoured with the gallantry award since 1999 Kargil War.
Speaking at the rally, the PM also took a swipe at NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
“Sharad Pawar says I don’t know what Modi will do. If he is unaware of what Modi will do tomorrow, how will Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan know? Had Pakistan not returned our IAF Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, that day would have been a night of mayhem [in Pakistan].”
He also said that he has decided that either he will be alive or the terrorists.
Urging the people to vote for his party, the PM said that it is the “duty of the people of Gujarat” to give all 26 Lok Sabha seats to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“It is the duty of the people of my home state to take care of the ‘son of soil’ by giving all the 26 seats in Gujarat to me. My government will come back to power but if Gujarat doesn’t give the BJP all the 26 seats, TV discussions will be held on May 23 as to why this happened,” PM Modi told the crowd.
Elections in Gujarat, Modi’s home state, will be held in a single phase on 23 April, which is the third phase of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections.