Remembering Kargil hero Kambampati Nachiketa

Group Captain Kambampati Nachiketa Rao (Photo FB)

While the talk of an IAF pilot in Pakistan custody brings to the fore memories of Captain Abhinandan Varthaman, the tale of Kambampati Nachiketa Rao, another IAF pilot, can't be forgotten.
Twenty years ago, during the Kargil war, engines of Group Captain Kambampati Nachiketa Rao MIG 27 failed during a strike at Batalik Sector. He ejected from the jet safely but landed in Pakistan territory and was held captive by the Pakistani Army. Nachiketa was captured by Pakistan on May 27, 1999, and was repatriated to India on June 3.

Pakistani authorities grilled him for eight days and maintained that he was treated with dignity and respect. But Rao describes the interrogation as "death would have been a better solution". "It was very tough. I can't describe that experience in words. That time I thought maybe death is a simpler solution. But I am thankful to God that destiny was on my side. I underwent severe mental and physical torture there for three-four days," Nachiketa told Hindustan Times in an interview in 2016.

Nachiketa received the prestigious Vayu Sena Medal for his bravery in 2000.

Earlier this year IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was held captive by the Pakistan following the Balakot surgical strike. Abhinandan aircraft was hit by missile and landed in Pakistani territory. He ejected from the flight and was held captive by the Pakistani army, which soon released a video of Abhinandan claiming he was being treated with due respect. He was released 60 hours later on March 1.

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