Pakistan Air Force Wing Commander Shahaz-ud-Din, who is the F-16 pilot shot down in close combat over the Nowshera sector is now reported to have been lynched by a mob who misjudged him for an Indian airman.
Wing Commander Varthaman and Shahaz-ud-Din locked horns with each other in the air. One was held captive by Pakistani forces and returned home yesterday night, while the other was murdered by his own people.
The news that Shahaz-ud-Din’s plane was shot down was initially reported by London-based lawyer Khalid Umar, who says he received it privately, from people close to the F-16 pilot’s family.
Khalil Umar’s account says that Shahaz-ud-Din parachuted out of his jet safely, but was then assaulted by a mob after the F-16 crash-landed in the Laam valley, westward from Naushehra into POK. Umar has claimed that Shahaz-ud-Din was rushed to a nearby hospital but later succumbed to his injuries.
Pakistani military spokesperson Major-General Asif Ghafoor stated on February 28 that 2 Indian jets had been shot down and 2 Indian pilots injured one of whom was in army custody while the other in the hospital.
However, later in the evening, Major-General Ghafoor asserted that only one Indian pilot was in Pakistan Army custody without even explaining his initial remarks.
“It’s extremely improbable the Pakistan Army just made up the second plane and pilot,” an Indian military source says. “The more likely explanation is that troops were unable to identify the destroyed aircraft or the battered, broken body to be their own. There was probably miscommunication up the chain of command.”