The Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has no presence on social media following a rise in the number of handles in the name of the IAF pilot cropping up on the Internet.
The IAF put out a tweet on its official Twitter handle urging people on social media not to follow any of the fake accounts in the name of the pilot who downed a Pakistani F-16 with a MiG-21 Bison before getting captured.
“#FAKE ACCOUNTS : Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman does not have a social media account on any portal (Facebook /Instagram /Twitter). Please avoid following any fake accounts being used in the name of any IAF Airwarrior for spreading misinformation. Jai Hind!!!” wrote the IAF.
#FAKE ACCOUNTS : Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman does not have a social media account on any portal (Facebook /Instagram /Twitter). Please avoid following any fake accounts being used in the name of any IAF Airwarrior for spreading misinformation.
Jai Hind!!! pic.twitter.com/nG8C7ZUkQ6
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) March 6, 2019
The IAF also listed six such fake handles and accounts: @_Pilotiaf, @IAFAbhinandanV, @abhinandanhere, @W_abhinandan, IAFAbhinandanV and abhinandanhere.
There are many other accounts of the hero pilot but nearly all of them have been suspended by Twitter.
Meanwhile, India Today reported that the IAF has officially confirmed that Wg Cdr Varthaman shot down a Pakistani F-16 with his MiG-21 Bison over the Nowshera sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in an aerial engagement thwarting a Pakistani attack on 27 February.
According to India Today, Abhinandan was the only IAF pilot who fired a missile at the incoming package of PAF fighter jets which violated the Indian airspace in a failed attempt at bombing Indian military installations.
The IAF pilot fired an infrared homing R-73 air-to-air missile to take down one of the F-16s, which had already fired multiple beyond-visual-range fire-and-forget AMRAAM missiles at the Indian interceptors.
The Wg Cdr was released by Pakistan on 1 March. Though Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan dressed it as a “peace gesture”, Pakistan was under tremendous pressure to release the IAF pilot due to the Geneva Convention and international pressure thanks to India’s diplomatic clout.
Wg Cdr Varthaman is currently recuperating at an Indian military hospital from injuries caused due to ejecting out of his damaged Mig 21 Bison.