When asked about the Pakistan Fighter pilot’s identity during a conference in the national capital, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Yes, We know”.
“The truth is that the F16 pilot was beaten by locals, probably by mistake, assuming that he is an Indian pilot. He was admitted in a hospital, but I don’t think he survived,” she said at a media event interview organised by India Today.
She added that villagers mistakenly lynched the Pakistani pilot and that the pilot later, most likely, died in hospital. She said, “(the Pilot was likely) beaten by locals and probably succumbed to his injuries.”
A Pakistan Air Force pilot of the F-16 fighter jet was brought down by the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG-21 Bison, piloted by Wing Commander Abhinanadan Varthaman during the aerial engagement that took place on February 27 between the two countries — India and Pakistan.
However Pakistan has since been continuously denying that its F-16 fighter jet was brought down during the said engagement over J&K airspace. But Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Air Force have given evidence of Pakistan using F-16 to target Indian military installations.
Evidence of the use of AMRAAM Missile, which can only be deployed on the F-16, has also been provided to the media by IAF. Ministry of External Affairs had also said that there are eye-witness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan deployed an F-16 aircraft.
MEA had raised the issue with the USA asking them to also examine whether the use of F-16 against India is in accordance with the terms and conditions of sale.
On March 5, Robert Palladino, the US State Department’s deputy spokesman released a statement saying that, “As a matter of policy we don’t publicly comment on contents of bilateral agreements, involving US defence technologies nor the communications that we have with other countries about that.”