Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Wednesday said the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani Air Force fighter aircraft, after Islamabad “targeted military installations on India’s side”.
“In this engagement, we have lost one MiG 21,” he said, adding that the pilot was “missing in action”. “Pakistan claims he is in their custody,” Kumar said. “We are ascertaining the facts.”
The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling on the Pakistani side, he said, adding that the Pakistani Air Force jets targeted military installations on the Indian side on Wednesday morning, but its attempts were “foiled successfully”.
Here’s the full text of Raveesh Kumar’s statement:
India had informed about Counter Terrorism action it took yesterday against a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan based on credible evidence that JeM intended to launch more attacks. Against this Counter Terrorism Action, Pakistan has responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side. Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan’s attempts were foiled successfully.
The Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly. In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts.
Reports of both India and Pakistan shooting down each other’s fighter jets emerged on Wednesday, a day after New Delhi claimed its Air Force had struck a terror camp in Pakistani territory. Indian officials claimed Pakistani jets had violated the Line of Control and dropped bombs in Jammu and Kashmir, while Islamabad had claimed its jets had struck across the Line of Control from “Pakistani airspace”, and that it had shot down two Indian jets.
While unidentified Indian officials had initially claimed that all Indian pilots were accounted for, other reports claimed later in the day that one pilot, Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was missing. Pakistan, meanwhile, had said two Indian pilots were arrested.
The Pakistani government tweeted a video clip that purportedly showed the pilot, but have now deleted the tweet. Scroll.in has not independently verified the authenticity of the video. In the video, copies of which are still available on social media, the person, with a bloody face, identifies himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan, whose service number is 27981. “I am a flying pilot and my religion is Hindu,” he says in the video. “That is all I’m supposed to tell you,” he adds.
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Separate reports also emerged of a military aircraft crashing in Budgam, Kashmir, but Pakistan has denied it was related to its operation.
The Army and Border Security Force have been put on the highest degree of alertness along the border, PTI reported. Educational institutions within 5 km of the Line of Control were closed in Rajouri and Poonch districts.
Most of Northern India was put on high alert following these reports. India has shut down airports in Leh, Jammu, Srinagar, Shimla, Dharamshala, Kullu, Ludhiana, Adampur, Bhatinda, Pathankot, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Dehradun for civilian traffic. All international flights exiting Indian airspace north of Mumbai are being re-routed through West Asia. The entire airspace north of Delhi has also reportedly been vacated.
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