Misinformation campaign on architect of IAF strike

Misinformation campaign on architect of IAF strike

Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar

Minutes after he hanged his boots after 39 years of distinguished service, Air Marshal Chandrashekharan Hari Kumar – one of the architects of the aerial strike on JeM Balakot terror camp – became the subject of a misinformation campaign.

Pakistan-based social media accounts claimed the Air Marshal was removed from his post because of the "failed surgical strike in which two IAF aircraft was lost”.

In reality, Friday was the last day in the office for Kumar, who as the Commander-in-Chief of the IAF sword arm Western Air Command played a key role in behind-the-scene planning of the strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp that was smothered by the Mirage-2000 jets.

“The Air Marshal celebrated his 60th birthday on February 26 and remained a soldier till the last day of his service. He personally supervised the planning and successful execution of the IAF strikes in Balakot sector. A day prior to his retirement, the officer personally directed the fighters that repulsed the raid from Pakistani Air Force on the forward posts of the Indian Army. Both operations received nationwide accolades and personal appreciation from the highest level of leadership,” says a statement issued by the WAC.

While exposing Pakistan's misinformation campaign, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor had made it clear that India lost only one MiG-21 Bison, whose pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman was held captive by Pakistan.

“The first blatant disinformation was that two IAF aircraft were shot down by Pakistan and three pilots were downed. This figure was later revised downwards to two IAF aircraft and two Pilots. Pakistan later in the evening changed its statement to say that one Indian pilot was in their custody,” Kapoor stated on Thursday.

At the WAC, Kumar has been replaced by Kargil war hero Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, who was commanding the Eastern Air Command at Shillong.

An experimental test pilot Nambiar has flown 42 types of aircraft and has the distinction of having the highest number of flying hours to his credit on Mirage-2000 with over 2,300 flying hours on the aircraft and a total of 5,100 hrs of flying experience.

Nambiar is among the first batch of IAF pilots who flew the new Rafale aircraft that will join the service later this year.

At the Eastern Air Command Nambiar has been replaced by Air Marshal R D Mathur.