Pakistan continues to rub salt on the Indian wounds over Abhinandan Varthaman – the Indian Air Force pilot who was captured and later released by the Pakistani Government. Pakistan has now installed a mannequin Varthaman inside a war museum of Pakistan Air Force in Karachi.
A Twitter posting by Pakistan journalist Anwar Lodhi shows a photo of the mannequin of Abhinandan Varthaman, captured on February 27 by Pakistan following a dogfight between the two air forces in which his MIG-21 was shot down in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. Varthaman was later released on March 1 after New Delhi exerted tremendous pressure on Islamabad.
Lodhi shared the picture and wrote: “PAF has put mannequin of Abhinandan Varthaman on display in the museum. This would be a more interesting display if they can arrange a Cup of FANTASTIC tea in his hand.”
In a video that was released by Pakistan military of Abhinandan when he was in their custody in February this year, the Air Force pilot is seen sipping tea and at one point he is heard replying to question by his captors: “The tea is fantastic, thank you” a statement that has been mercilessly used by Pakistani netizens to provoke Indians.
The photograph shared by Lodhi on the microblogging site also captures a mug placed behind on the left-hand side of the Abhinandan’s mannequin which is flanked by a Pakistani soldier. The entire display is encased in a glass showcase.
During a counter-attack in response to the Balakot airstrike in February, Abhinandan, while flying the MiG 21 Bison, was chasing Pakistani F-16 fighters, which had transgressed into the Indian airspace, and in the process, his plane crossed over to Pakistani side and was shot down.
He ejected safely but was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army upon landing. Before his plane was shot, he had hit a Pakistani F-16. Abhinandan returned to India on March 1 via the Wagah-Attari border after two days in Pakistani captivity. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of Varthaman, terming his decision “a peace gesture.”