India knows the identity of Pakistan’s F-16 pilot who died and Nirmala Sitharaman says that he was beaten by Balakot locals

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that India knows the identity of the deceased Pakistani pilot whose F-16 was downed by Wing Commander Abhinandan Vardaman’s MiG-21. In doing so, she acknowledged on record for the first time, the fact that a Pakistani pilot had indeed died in the air strikes that followed on 27 February after the Indian Air Force’s Balakot operation on 26 February.

At an event held by India Today on national security issues, Sitharaman also said, “I don’t want to rely on social media, but you may have seen on social media itself that a Pakistani air marshal, perhaps retired, claiming that the issue of two pilots. I have not double checked this, but I do want to ask, is it true? Two trained, top pilots of their countries. Both sons of air marshals. One returns to his country, but the other is unacknowledged by the country he died for. Truth is that the F-16 pilot, he was beaten up by villagers, who probably assumed that he was an Indian soldier. He was admitted to a hospital but I don’t think he survived.”

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