Sitharaman denies US magazine’s report on Pak F-16, slams Congress ‘bhajan mandali’ for doubting defence forces

Sitharaman denies US magazine’s report on Pak F-16, slams Congress ‘bhajan mandali’ for doubting defence forces

Ahmedabad (Gujarat): Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday denied Foreign Policy magazine’s claims of India not having downed a Pakistani F-16 plane last month and criticised leaders of the Congress for “doubting and raising questions on what the defence forces are saying.”

“Indian Air Force gave proof on it with electronic signature of F-16. Whoever has written it, it’s baseless and source-based. The part of AM-RAAM missile, which is used only with F-16, how was it found in India?” Sitharaman told reporters here.

She added, “The article that came in ‘Foreign Policy’, many people are calling it baseless. Someone showed me on social media that US officials are also saying that they didn’t conduct any such investigation. There are a lot of people who are spreading misinformation. But it is sad that in our own country, we have a lot of people in Congress party’s ‘Bhajan Mandali’ who are doubting and raising questions on what the defence forces are saying. It suits them.”

In the article, Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman claimed that United States officials have told her that all of Pakistan’s F-16 jets are accounted for and none of them are missing, following a recent check by US personnel after the February aerial dogfight with India.

This was in direct contradiction to India’s claim that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistani F-16 with his MiG-21 Bison before his plane was downed.

Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani forces and later released as a peace gesture.

In response to the Foreign Policy article, Spokesperson of the Pakistan Army, Major General Asif Ghafoor had tweeted: “Allah be praised, truth always prevails. Time for India to speak the truth about false claims & actual losses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan. India needs introspection especially over atrocities in IOK. Region needs peace, progress & prosperity.”