There has been an outpouring of support from across the nation soon after an article published in American news outlet Foreign Policy claimed that India’s claim that its MIG-21 Bison fighter jet shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in an aerial dogfight in February may be false. The report quoted two senior US defence officials with direct knowledge of the situation saying, “the US personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing”. On the contrary, the Indian government had claimed a day after the Balakot air strikes, on February 27, Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistani fighter jet that tried to target Indian military facilities.
In the aerial fight, Varthaman’s fighter jet was hit that forced him to eject. The IAF pilot then landed across the Line of Control and was in the custody of Pakistan for three days. On March 1, 2019, Varthaman was returned to India.
Ever since the Balakot sir strike has taken place, India has been claiming that it shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet, however, Pakistan denied it. The new reports have once again ignited the issue but people across India are in support of the Indian Army and has been asking the government to provide necessary evidence soon. Here are some of the tweets:
The IAF has also displayed the debris of AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence, which certainly questions the credibility of reports.
The report has substantiated its claim saying the United States was physically present to count Pakistan’s F-16 fleet. India’s claim was contradicted after it found that all the jets were “present and accounted for”.
The reports around the matter have been making headlines as India is soon to witness the Lok Sabha elections 2019. The Opposition has been targetting the ruling Narendra Modi-led BJP government claiming the party has politicised the issue for personal gains.