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IAF transfers Abhinandan Varthaman from Srinagar over security concerns

Security agencies have indicated that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman could be a target of the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

india Updated: Apr 20, 2019 21:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman,Abhinandan Varthaman,Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman(PTI file photo)

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was taken prisoner by Pakistan after his MiG 21 aircraft was shot down on February 27, has been transferred out of the Srinagar airbase, a senior Defence Ministry official who did not want to be named said Saturday.

“Security considerations prompted the transfer,” the officer said and added that Wing Commander Abhinandan’s home base will “be another front-line fighter base.” Security agencies have indicated that the officer could be a target of the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)- the group that took responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama suicide attack which killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) dead.

The Indian Air Force, however, said that transfer to another base is “routine.”

Wing Commander Abhinandan, flying a vintage Russian-made Mig-21 fighter, was part of the package of aircraft that took on the incoming Pakistan Air Force war planes on February 27. A day earlier, IAF fighters had hit a JeM training camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He was taken prisoner by Pakistan after his aircraft was shot down over the Line of Control (LoC). Under pressure from India, Wing Commander Abhinandan was released by Pakistan on March 1. The fighter pilot is currently awaiting medical clearance to resume flying a combat aircraft.

First Published: Apr 20, 2019 21:01 IST