Amid escalating tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, the chorus of "Bring back Abhinandan" continues to build in the nation. India has demanded the immediate return of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan after his Mi-21 fighter aircraft was shot down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during a dogfight with Pakistani fighter jets on Wednesday, February 28.
A Pakistani daily Dawn reported how in the face of grave uncertainty, our warrior pilot did not panic or lose his mind. Instead, he fought his captors, fired into the air and swallowed critical documents (which should not have been in rival hands), before he was outnumbered and taken into custody. He was bleeding all this while after the crash.
Dawn reports: The pilot, who was equipped with a pistol, asked the youngsters whether it was India or Pakistan. On this, one of them intelligently responded that it was India. The pilot, later identified as Wing Commander Abhi Nandan, shouted some 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 to drink.
Some emotional youth, who could not digest the slogans, shouted Pakistan army zindabad. On this, Abhinandan shot fire in the air while the boys picked up stones in their hands.
According to Mr Razzaq, an eyewitness, the Indian pilot ran a distance of half a kilometre in backward direction while pointing his pistol towards the boys who were chasing him.
During this brisk movement, he fired some more gunshots in the air to frighten them but to no avail, he said. 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 the water.
The boys kept on asking him to drop his weapon and in the meanwhile, one boy shot at his leg, Razzaq said.
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. Meanwhile, army personnel arrived there and took him into their custody and saved him from the wrath of the youths, Razzaq said.
"Thank God, none of the furious boys shot him dead because he had given them quite a tough time," he added.
As a cool, composed Wing Commander, Abhinandan Varthaman, blindfold on, identified himself in a video released by Pakistani media on Wednesday afternoon people praised him on social media platforms with many lauding his presence of mind.
Paksitan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor has now said that they only an IAF pilot in their custody. "Wing Commander Abhinandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics", he tweeted.