Amid concern over the Indian Air Force pilot held captive by Pakistan, Nachiketa, the airman who was in Pakistani captivity during the 1999 Kargil conflict has also put out a strong message for his comrade.
“It was indeed disturbing news when he was captured but we all are trained and conditioned for this and I am sure he will be with us shortly and join back his unit soon,” said Group Captain Kambampati Nachiketa, who was a Prisoner of War in 1999, when India and Pakistan fought a limited war in the mountainous reaches of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.
“He should be back soon and will take to the skies again to defend his motherland whenever called for,” he said. After all, he remarked, the heart of a pilot is always in the cockpit.
He described the captured pilot as “brave and courageous with high professional ethos” befitting an IAF air warrior. “We all are proud of him,” said Nachiketa.
“(The pilot) has been made a PoW in a hostile situation in the line of his duty and as per Geneva conventions, to which both India and Pakistan are signatories, he should be treated appropriately as an officer and sent back to India. I am sure the government of India and the Indian Air Force is in touch with counterparts across to ensure his speedy return back home,” he said.
Nachiketa said any defence person would keep doing their duty per orders from the commanders, to the best of their ability.
“It’s definitely a positive sign that they have declared him. The anxious moments for his family should get over soon.”
Nachiketa was a 26-year-old flight lieutenant during the Kargil conflict and was serving in the No, 9 Squadron of the IAF when his aircraft failed during strikes at an enemy post.
He ejected and was taken captive by Pakistani forces, who jailed him in Rawalpindi. He was released eight days later, after India mounted international pressure.
In his message for the pilot, Nachiketa said: “My prayers and well wishes , like all other Indians are always there for his family in this difficult moment as they wait in anticipation for that crucial news of his return in a healthy condition.”