Who is Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman?

Screen grab from the video.

Tensions between India and Pakistan reached an all-time high on Wednesday as the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that an Indian Air Force pilot has been missing in action after a Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force.  

"In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts," said the statement by MEA. 

Videos of a captured Indian Air Force pilot has been circulating on social media since morning. In the video, Pakistani army officials can be heard cautioning the locals from attacking the pilot. In another 46-second video released by the Pakistan Army, a blindfolded man claiming that he's IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan.

 


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"I am an IAF officer. My service No is 27981," the man says in the video.

While the Indian government is yet to ascertain the details and confirm the identity of the pilot, a social media user known as @churumuri has shared an 8-year-old video of NDTV Good Times duo Rocky and Mayur, hosts of 'Highway on My Plate' interacting with IAF personnel. 

 

Meanwhile, the Express Tribune, a Pak based paper, claims to have fact-checked the video and claims to have verified the identity of the pilot, allegedly apprehended by Pakistani officials. 

Express Tribune claimed to have checked the name and the service number on www.Bharat-Rakshak.com, a website described by them as a "portal devoted to chronicling and discussing India’s military affairs and is run by Indian military enthusiasts...It started in April 1997 as a consortium of previously independent webpages run by Indian military enthusiasts and now counts many former and serving members of both the Indian military and Indian defence firms in its user base...The website has been seen by defence experts as part of a global Open Source intelligence movement driven by the internet."

Express Tribune claims that the website has been blocked, possibly to prevent others from accessing the same record to confirm the pilot’s identity. Repeated attempts to access it yielded an “ERR_NETWORK_ACCESS_DENIED” message.  

However, they shared a screenshot of the service records of Wing Commander Abhinandan in the article. 

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Who is Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman?

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