MUZAFFARABAD: Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry was in the courtyard of his house in Horra’n village, located barely 7km from the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Bhimber district, at about 8:45am on Wednesday when the “smoke and sound” made him realise that a dogfight was going on up above in the sky.
Upon watching them carefully, the 58-year-old political and social activist of the area noticed that two aircraft had caught fire but while one of them sped across the LoC, the other burst into flames and came down speedily.
Its wreckage fell more than one kilometre away from the house of Mr Razzaq towards the eastern side in a deserted field.
Mr Razzaq said he saw a parachute descending towards the ground, which made landing around one kilometre away from his house but on the southern side.
He jumped into a small pond where he tried to swallow some documents and maps
“A pilot emerged out of the parachute safe and sound,” he told Dawn from Horra’n village by telephone.
Mr Razzaq said he had in the meantime made calls to several youngsters in the village, asking them not to go close to the wreckage until arrival of the army personnel but get hold of the pilot.
The pilot, who was equipped with a pistol, asked the youngsters whether it was India or Pakistan. On this, one of them intelligently responded that it was India. The pilot, later identified as Wing Commander Abhi Nandan, shouted some slogans and asked which place exactly it was in India.
To this, the same boy responded that it was Qilla’n.
The pilot told them that his “back was broken” and he needed water to drink.
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Some emotional youth, who could not digest the slogans, shouted Pakistan army zindabad. On this, Abhinandan shot a fire in the air while the boys picked up stones in their hands.
According to Mr Razzaq, the Indian pilot ran a distance of half a kilometre in backward direction while pointing his pistol towards the boys who were chasing him.
During this brisk movement, he fired some more gunshots in the air to frighten them but to no avail, he said. Then he jumped into a small pond where he took out some documents and maps from his pockets, some of which he tried to swallow and soaked others in water.
The boys kept on asking him to drop his weapon and in the meanwhile one boy shot at his leg, Mr Razzaq said.
Finally, he came out and said he should not be killed. The boys got hold of him from both arms. Some of them roughed him up, in a fit of rage, while others kept on stopping them.
In the meanwhile, army personnel arrived there and took him into their custody and saved him from the wrath of the youths, he said.
“Thanks God, none of the furious boys shot him dead because he had given them quite a tough time,” he said.
The detained pilot was then taken to an army installation in Bhimber in a convoy of military vehicles.
As the convoy passed through Khalil Chowk of Bhimber city, some 50km away from Horra’n, it was greeted by dozens of cheerful citizens standing on both sides of the road. They showered rose petals on the military vehicles, amid slogans like Long Live Pakistan army, Long Live Pakistan Air Force, Long Live Pakistan and Long Live Kashmir.
Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2019