An An-32 aircraft that went missing with 13 people aboard last week slammed into the face of a mountain very close to its summit in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mechuka region, a new photograph released by the Indian Air Force shows.
This is the clearest image of the wreckage to have emerged so far. The An-32 aircraft was first spotted by a Mi-17 helicopter yesterday from a height of 12,000 feet, and rescue workers are currently trying to find bodies and possible survivors.
Search operations began around 6.30 am today. While the Air Force successfully dropped eight to ten personnel near the crash site in two helicopter sorties, 15 mountaineers — nine from the Air Force, four from the Army and two civilians — have also been deployed. A few have reached the crash site, and others are scouring the surroundings woods for possible signs of survivors.
Local mountaineers who sighted the crash site have also been roped in by the Siang district administration.
The An-32, a Soviet-designed twin engine turboprop transport aircraft, had vanished from the radar around 1 pm on June 3 while flying from Jorhat in Assam to a remote military landing strip in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mechuka. An IAF C-130J transport aircraft, Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, NAVY P8-I search aircraft and a fleet of IAF and Army helicopters were deployed for the search over the last eight days. The Air Force used two Mi-17s and an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the P8i — a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Tamil Nadu — for the purpose.
The base for the search-and-rescue operation has been set up at Kayiang in West Siang, an official with the Arunachal Pradesh government said. While a doctor and other emergency services have been positioned there, a back-up team has also been kept on stand-by. Air Force sources told NDTV that the base hospital at Jorhat has been kept ready for medical emergencies.
The mountainous and forested Mechuka region, where the An-32 aircraft had crashed, is believed to be one of the world’s most inhospitable for air travel.
Rome: Eyewitnesses present at the site of India’s 26 February bomb strikes against a Jaish-e-Muhammad base say they saw up to 35 bodies being transported out of the the site by ambulance hours after the attack. The dead, they recounted, included 12 men who were said to have been sleeping in a single temporary shack, and several individuals who had earlier served in Pakistan’s military.
The sources, who work for local government authorities, declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to media, and said they feared reprisal. The eyewitnesses were contacted by this correspondent using encrypted communication.
An image released by Reuters of a madrasa near the site where Indian aircrafts released payload in Jaba village. Reuters
“Local authorities reached the site soon after the bombing,” one witness said, “but the area had already been cordoned off by then by the army, who did not even allow police to enter. The army also took away mobile phones from the medical staff on the ambulances.”
A former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer known locally as “Colonel Salim” was killed in the bombing, sources said, while a “Colonel Zarar Zakri” was injured. Mufti Moeen, a Jaish-e-Muhammad instructor from Peshawar, and improvised explosive device-fabrication expert Usman Ghani were also killed in the bombing.
The largest single cluster of fatalities, the eyewitnesses said, were 12 Jaish-e-Muhammad fidayeen trainees, who were living in a single temporary earth-and-wood building that was flattened in the bombing.
Eyewitness testimony from the region has been conflicting, with witnesses variously saying there were no Jaish-e-Muhammad fighters at Jaba top, and others insisting they were present. The testimony has also been divided on whether casualties were inflicted, with several local residents telling television and print journalists that the only victims were some civilians who received minor injuries.
However, the witnesses were only interviewed days after the attack, and several media outlets reported that they were not allowed unfettered access to all areas in Jaba, the village targeted in the raid.
Independent satellite imagery analysis conducted by Nathan Ruser of the prestigious Australian Strategic Policy Institute concluded that there is “no apparent evidence of more extensive damage and on the face of it does not validate Indian claims regarding the effect of the strikes”.
However, Indian Air Force officials have asserted that that synthetic aperture radar — which provides finer spatial resolution than conventional beam-scanning radar — reveals that they destroyed four target buildings below the ridge, where the Jaish-e-Muhammad has several buildings, including a seminary.
ANI tweeted out undated images of the said JeM installation at Jaba top. Twitter @ANI
The images, however, have not been made public, making it impossible to independently verify these claims.
Islamabad has said the Indian raid caused little damage, other than to local vegetation.
Indian intelligence sources said two of the names mentioned by the eyewitnesses — Usman and Colonel Salim — had also figured in communications intelligence available.
At an intelligence assessment meeting held on 1 March, India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) said its communications intelligence could confirm five dead, but placed estimates of the killed in the region of 20.
R&AW had identified the Jaba top seminary as a target, based on intelligence that personnel earlier stationed by the Jaish-e-Muhammad at villages along the Line of Control had been pulled back to that location, in anticipation of possible Indian Army retaliation after the Pulwama suicide bombing.
“There’s no doubt that bombs hit their targets,” a senior intelligence official said. “Though some of the numbers that have been appearing in the media are hyperbolic, I think the raid served its purpose, which was to make a point about our ability to strike at terrorist safe-havens, rather than extract revenge.” Some television channels reported that 300 people had been killed in the strike.
Past air strikes on terrorist targets have generally had a low deterrent effect, since the personnel at training facilities are generally small in the number and dispersed.
In 1998, the United States fired 75 cruise missiles at Al-Qaeda’s Zhawar Kili in retaliation of the bombing at the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, but killed only a dozen terrorists or less.
The author is an Italian journalist who has covered South Asia extensively. She writes regularly for Limes-Italian Review of Geopolitics and several Italian and Swiss media outlets. She won the Italian journalism prize, Il Luigiano d’oro in 2010. She is the Chief Editor of Stringer Asia, an online magazine on South Asia, since 1995.
NEW DELHI: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and conveyed to him that the entire nation is proud of his courage and determination, officials said.
During the meeting at a medical facility of the Indian Air Force, Varthaman is understood to have explained to Sitharaman details of his nearly 60-hour detention in Pakistan.
Varthaman arrived in the national capital by an IAF flight around 11.45pm on Friday, nearly two-and-half hours after he crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border.
Currently, he is undergoing medical tests at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialised medical evaluation centre for aircrew of all the three services.
The medical tests are part of the “cooling down” process which is expected to continue till Sunday. Once the health check-up phase is over, debriefing sessions will be arranged for him, the officials said.
Earlier today, Varthaman met his immediate family members as well as several top officials of the Indian Air Force.
He was captured by Pakistani authorities on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison went down during a dogfight with Pakistani jets. But before his plane was hit, Varthaman shot down an F-16 of Pakistan air force.
Wing commander Abhinandan, an Indian pilot who was captured by the Pakistani soldiers after his plane was shot down, has reiterated that the Pakistan Army is a professional service and he is very impressed accoding to a video released in Pakistan.
In a video message prior to his release at the Wagah border, the Indian pilot said that he was trying to find a target when the Pakistani air force shot down his planes and he had to eject.
Pakistan shot down two Indian planes in Kashmir on February 27. One plane crashed in the Kohi Rata sector of Azad Kashmir while one crashed in Indian-Administered Kashmir’s Budgam area. Abhinandan, was also taken into custody.
“When I fell down I had a pistol,” he recalled. “There was a big crowd and I tried to run but they followed me.” Abhinandan said that the soldiers of Pakistan army saved him from the crowd.
“Two Jawans of the Pakistan army reached there and they saved me and took me to their unit,” he added. “I was given first aid and then I was taken to the hospital.”
Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman disclosed in his video statement before his release from Pakistan on Friday that he was searching for a target when his plane was shot down by the Pakistan Air force.
He said “I ejected my plane and using a parachute landed”.
He only had a pistol with him.
At reaching the ground, he was surrounded by an angry mob.
” I had only one way of saving myself i threw my pistol and decided to run” said the Indian pilot.
The Indian pilot goes on to saying that when he was being attacked by the mob, he was saved by two soldiers and the Captain of the Pakistan army.
The pilot continues to say that after being rescued by the mob he was taken to the unit of the Pakistan Army, where he was given first aid.
Missing Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is coming back to India today. Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured by Pakistan authority, will be handed over India through Attari-Wagah border. This comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday announced in Parliament in Islamabad that the Wing Commander would be released on Friday as a “gesture of peace”.
Earlier in a stern message to Pakistan, India yesterday ruled out any deal on the return of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. New Delhi has sought unconditional and immediate return of the IAF pilot, according to a PTI report. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Islamabad was “willing to consider returning Indian pilot” if it leads to ‘de-escalation’, the report said. IAF and Indian Army will jointly address media this evening.
The Narendra Modi government wanted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to walk the talk on investigating the Pulwama attack on CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14. New Delhi also asserted that it wants strict and prompt action against terrorists who are using Pakistan soil to carry out attacks in India. It has firmly said it has not asked for any consular access to the IAF pilot.
IAF Wing Commander Pilot Abhinandan set to be released! The government due to security reasons has not announced any time or place to hand him over to Indian authorities. But diplomatic sources said that the pilot will be taken to the Wagah border crossing near Lahore and handed over to officials of the Indian High Commission.
China has cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan and rerouted its international aircraft flying over the Pakistani airspace due to the regional tensions, official media here reported on Friday. The closure of Pakistan’s airspace in response to escalating tensions with India disrupted major routes between Europe and South East Asia and left thousands of air travellers stranded worldwide. Flights from the Middle East that usually overfly Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border will have to re-route over India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China, civil aviation experts told Global Times.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is in Abu Dhabi to attend the foreign ministers’ meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states where she is expected to raise the issue of terrorism, amidst Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack. Swaraj will attend the inaugural plenary of the two-day meeting on Friday. It is for the first time that India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as the guest of honour. India’s engagement with the OIC comes in the midst of escalating tension between India and Pakistan. The ties strained further after Indian fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. Pakistan carried out a retaliatory aerial raid on Wednesday.
According to TV reports, activist in Pakistan filed a plea in court against the release of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Pilot Abhinandan.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “On a day when our country is grappling with another crisis of mad rush of mutual self destruction played b/w India-Pak. Our basic problem is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflicts citizens in our 2 countries.
Pakistan violates ceasefire in Uri sector, civilian injured
Simultaneously, the US has urged both India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Thursday joined other lawmakers in expressing concern over the escalating tension between India and Pakistan.
“This is “a result of a Pakistan-based terrorist group’s brutal attack”, he said.“I urge both countries to de-escalate the mounting tensions,” Hoyer said.First Published on Mar 1, 2019 08:29 am
New Delhi: As India mulled over the possible ways to bring back IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Pakistan on Thursday said it will decided on according the air force pilot prisoner of war status “in a couple of days”.
“India has raised the matter of the pilot with us. We’ll decide in a couple of days what convention will apply to him and whether to give him Prisoner of War status or not,” Pakistani media quoted the country’s Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal as saying.
The 38-year-old was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday after his MiG-21 Bison crashed during an aerial dogfight with a Pakistani jet.
‘The Missing 54’
While the debate over POW status to Varthaman escalates, 54 other Indians soldiers, officers and pilots continue to be held by Pakistan as POWs since the 1971 conflict, although the Pakistan government has often denied their presence on its soil. The 54 POWs have come to be known as ’The Missing 54’.
‘The Missing 54’ are the soldiers and officers of Indian armed forces who were given the status of missing in action (MIA) or killed in action after the 1971 Indo-Pak war. However, they are believed to be alive and imprisoned in various Pakistani jails. They include 30 personnel from the Indian Army and 24 from the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The 30 Army personnel include one Lieutenant, eight Captains, two Second Lieutenants, six Majors, two Subedars, three Naik Lieutenants, one Havaldaur, five gunners and two sepoys from the Indian Army. The remaining 24 from the Indian Air Force include three Flight Officers, one Wing Commander, four Squadron Leaders and 16 Flight Lieutenants.
This list was tabled in the Lok Sabha in 1979 by Samarendra Kundu, Minister of State of External Affairs, in reply to a question raised by Amarsingh Pathawa.
The families have approached both the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross in their 48-year-long campaign, but neither body was able to offer assistance.
On the contrary, during the 1971 war, India had taken almost 90,000 Pakistani troops as POWs. However, all of them were released as part of the Simla peace agreement.
Until 1989, Pakistan had completely denied holding the prisoners. However, then prime minister Benazir Bhutto finally told visiting Indian officials that the men were in Pakistani custody. The POW issue had also figured in the discussions between Bhutto and then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi during their meeting in Islamabad in December 1989. She had also assured Gandhi that she would “seriously look into their release”.
Years later, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf back-tracked on this, formally denying their existence in Pakistan.
However, there has been compelling evidence of the presence of 54 POWs in Pakistan’s custody.
In 1972, Time magazine published a photo showing one of the men behind bars in Pakistan. His family believed he had been killed during the war, but instantly recognised him, The Diplomat reported in 2015.
In her biography of Benazir Bhutto, British historian and former BBC correspondent Victoria Schoffield reported that a Pakistani lawyer had been told that Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore was housing Indian prisoners of war “from the 1971 conflict”.
Victoria Schofield in her book Bhutto: Trial and Execution also wrote, “Besides these conditions at Kot Lakhpat (jail), for three months Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) was subjected to a peculiar kind of harassment, which he thought was especially for his benefit… His cell, separated from a barrack area by a 10-foot-high wall, did not prevent him from hearing horrific shrieks and screams at night from the other side of the wall. One of Mr Bhutto’s lawyers made enquiries among the jail staff and ascertained that they were in fact Indian prisoners-of-war who had been rendered delinquent and mental during the course of the 1971 war.”
“An American general, Chuck Yeager, also revealed in an autobiography that during the 1971 war, he had personally interviewed Indian pilots captured by the Pakistanis. The airmen were of particular interest to the Americans because, at the height of the Cold War, the men had attended training in Russia and were flying Soviet designed and manufactured aircraft,” The Diplomat wrote in 2015.
On September 1, 2015, the Supreme Court also asked the Centre about the status of these 54 Indian POWs languishing in Pakistan jails since 1971.
“Are they still alive?” the Supreme Court had questioned.
“We don’t know,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for External Affairs and Defence ministries, told a bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph.
“We presume that they are dead as Pakistan has been denying their presence in their prisons,” he said.
The provisions of the Geneva conventions apply in peacetime situations, in declared wars, and in conflicts that are not recognised as war by one or more of the parties. The treatment of prisoners of war is dealt with by the Third Convention or treaty. More specifically, the 3rd Geneva Convention of 1949 lays down a wide range of protection for prisoners of war. It defines their rights and sets down detailed rules for their treatment and eventual release. International humanitarian law (IHL) also protects other persons deprived of liberty as a result of armed conflict.
Itanagar: Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter force-landed in the west of Tuting in ArunachalPradesh’s Upper Siang district on Thursday, a Defence Ministry official said.
The incident took place when the MI-17 chopperwas on a routine mission from Tuting IAF Advanced Landing Ground, an official said. All 16 people on board are safe, the official said. (IANS)
The IAF’s helicopter fleet has steadily increased in numbers over the past few years, blossoming from a handful of U.S. types in the 60s to over 500 French, Indian and Soviet built types. The pride of the force is, undoubtedly, the Mi-26 heavy lift helicopter which has been operated by No. 126 HU with outstanding results in the mountains of Northern India. The bulk of rotorcraft are Medium Lift Helicopters (MI-17/MI-17IV/MI-17V5 and Mi-8s) well over two hundred of these types serving in helicopter units through out the country, playing a vital logistic support role. Induction of the latest machine, the Mi-17 V5, is a quantum jump in our Medium Heli-lift capability in terms of the avionics, weapon systems as well as its hot and high altitude performance. Medium Lift Helicopters of IAF are operated for commando assault tasks, ferrying supplies and personnel to remote mountain helipads, carrying out SAR (Search and Rescue Operations) and logistic support tasks in the island territories, Siachen Glacier, apart from armed role.
The Chetak/Cheetah helicopter fleet has been the backbone in SAR, Casualty Evacuation and RTR (Route Transport Role) role in the IAF. To augment Cheetah helicopter operations in OP Meghdoot sectors, indigenously modified re-engined Cheetal have been inducted in the fleet. This indigenous helicopter has proved its worth and apart from reliability it has shown better load carrying capacity.
Of late, India has taken a conscious decision to go the indigenous development way in so far as procurement of military hardware is concerned. This can be best leveraged in the helicopter capability, as HAL has shown significant capability generation in the successful design and development of the ALH (Dhruv). ALH fleet in IAF has steadily grown from conventional ALH Mk-I to state of the art ‘Glass’ cockpit ALH Mk-III. ALH Mk-I has been effectively utilized for communication, SAR, Cas Evac roles.
It is also the prime machine for Sarang Helicopter Display Team, which projects the capability of indigenous helicopter apart from skill, motivation and training of IAF pilots. ALH Mk-III has been recent induction which undertakes SAR, Cas Evac and RTR. The Weapon System Integrated version, the ALH Mark IV, is also likely to be inducted into the IAF by 2017.
The first Attack Helicopter Squadron of IAF was raised as 125 (H) Sqn (GLADIATORS) on 01 Nov 1983 and equipped with Mi-25 helicopter Gunships. The Mi-35 was inducted in Apr 1990. 104 (H) Sqn was re-equipped with Mi-35 in 1990.
The Attack Helicopter fleet of IAF has a rich history of participating in operations since its induction. The AH has been deployed in IPKF operation in Sri Lanka, under UN at Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo under Chapter 7 of UN for Peace Enforcement. The machine and men of Gunship Sqns have done Yomen service for Indian Air Force and provided Tactical Foot Print to the Air Power.
The rotary wing capabilities of the IAF are poised to undergo a paradigm altering growth. Induction of the Chinook helicopter will be a boost to the nation�s heavy heli-lift capability. The planned induction of Apache Attack Helicopters is yet another instance of the shift in the technology and capability level of the rotary wing fleet by IAF. The prowess of our Helicopter operations have been demonstrated in Uttarakhand very recently, and with all these new capabilities and systems being added on, the IAF will be truly poised to take on any challenges.
MI-25/MI-35 : Twin engine turboshaft, assault and anti armour helicopter capable of carrying 8 men assault squad with four barrel 12.7 mm rotary gun in nose barbette and upto 1500 Kg of external ordnance including Scorpion anti-tank missiles. It has a max cruise speed of 310 km/hr.
MI-26 : Twin engine turboshaft, military heavy lift helicopter of Russian origin with carrying capacity of 70 combat equipped troops or 20,000 kg payload. It has a max speed of 295 km/hr.
MI-17 V5 : The Mi-17 V5 is a potent helicopter platform, equipped with modern avionics and glass cockpit instrumentation. They are equipped with state-of-art navigational equipment, avionics, weather radar and are NVG-compatible.
Chetak : Single engine turboshaft, light utility French helicopter with capacity of 6 passengers or 500 kg load. It has a max speed of 220 km/hr.
Cheetah : Single engine turboshaft, FAC/casevac helicopter of French origin having capacity to carry 3 passengers or 100 kg external sling loads. It has max cruise speed of 121 km/hr and can climb to 1 km in 4 minutes.