Abhinandan subjected to a lot of mental harassment, though not physically tortured

New Delh: A day after his return from Pakistan, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Saturday informed the top brass of Indian Air Force (IAF) that he was subjected to a lot of mental harassment, though he was not physically tortured by Pakistan military authorities, said a source.

The Wing Commander was also medically examined here, considering the fact that he had ejected after his MiG 21 was shot down in PoK air space while chasing Pakistani fighter planes which had transgressed into Indian air space on February 27. Before his plane was shot, he had hit a Pakistani F-16.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa met Wing Commander Varthaman at the Army RR Hospital here.

During a separate meeting with the Air Chief, Varthaman briefed him about his detention in Pakistan, officials said.

Wing Commander Varthaman was expected to be debriefed by the IAF on his detention in Pakistan, which is yet to take place.

After a delay of over five hours, Varthaman stepped on the Indian soil through Wagah border, Amritsar in Punjab, on Friday night at 9.20 pm. He was in the custody of Pakistan Army since Wednesday when his parachute drifted and fell inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Abhinandan was chasing Pakistani F-16 fighters which had transgressed into the Indian airspace, and in the process, his MiG 21 Bison crossed over to Pakistani side and was shot down. He ejected safely but was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army upon his landing.

On Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of Varthaman, calling his move a “peace gesture.” India also used diplomatic and military pressure to ensure that Pakistan releases Varthaman unconditionally, top sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no compromises on Pakistan’s proposal for holding talks, said sources. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval held talks with the US and other P-5 countries, sources said. The External Affairs Ministry also exerted pressure on Pakistan through the Arab world, they said.