Nirmala Sitharaman puts it on record that Pakistan lost one pilot in dogfight with Abhinandan
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, for the first time, spoke on the IAF's aerial strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Nirmala Sitharaman was part of an interaction during Aaj Tak Suraksha Sabha - a platform discussing national security issues.
This is the first time India has put it on record that Pakistan has lost a pilot who was flying the F-16 that went down.
To a question whether the F-16 pilot's identity has been established, she gave an affirmative answer but added she would not want to share the details.
Sitharaman said on Tuesday (March 12), confirming the reports that Pakistani fighter pilot was beaten up by a mob and succumbed to his injuries in hospital, that India is aware of the dead Pakistani F-16 pilot's identity. The F-16 was hit by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a dogfight on February 27.
"Pakistan never accepts when their soldiers are killed. The F-16 was knocked down by us. The pilot was beaten up by local villagers and probably later died in hospital," she said explaining the sequence of events when Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman ejected from his fighter jet and landed in Pakistani territory after bringing down the Pakistan Air Force fighter jet.
Sitharaman said there was credible and specific intelligence about new trainers and fresh recruits brought in to the terror camp on February 24 to carry out fidayeen attacks. "So this wasn't a random hit," she said.
Pakistan claimed it downed two Indian jets and rejected IAF's assertion that a F-16 aircraft was shot down by it during the dogfight.