IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman remained unfazed in the face of danger and torture during his over 60 hour captivity in Pakistan.
He repelled all attempts by the Pakistani interrogators who tried to extract crucial information on Indian troop deployment, sensitive logistics and high-security radio frequencies within the first 24 hours of capturing him from Horra'n village (barely 7 km from the LoC) in Bhimber district of PoK, according to a senior officer debriefing the fighter pilot.
The IAF pilot was tasked with averting Pakistani F16 jets' intrusion into the Indian air space as they tried to target Indian military installations in the Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) a day after the Indian Mirage-2000 jets struck and bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's (JeM) terror den in Balakot, Pakistan.
Varthaman was not provided any medical treatment during initial hours after he ejected from his MiG-21 following a dogfight with Pakistani Air Force's (PAF) aircraft on February 27.
He was beaten, choked, deprived of sleep and subjected to mental and physical harassment by Pakistani interrogators. The IAF pilot was made to stand for long hours, made to hear loud music to confuse him and increase his discomfort, the official who is part of a team debriefing the fighter pilot told Hindustan Times.
The official said that the pilot was constantly moved around and largely remained in Pakistani army's custody even as PAF questioned him.
The officer added that Varthaman held back critical information as Pakistani officers tried to get him to spew secretes related to high-security radio frequencies the IAF uses to transmit messages, troop and fighter jet deployment, and sensitive logistics.
All Indian fighter pilots are tutored to hold back information as long as they can when they get captured so that the deployment and frequencies can be changed within the first 24 hours to thwart any attempt by the enemies to leverage the advantage, the official said.
Wing Commander Abhinandan did the same and staved the Pakistani interrogators off despite getting tortured.
A select group of officers divided in a least three to four teams at present are debriefing Varthaman who has been feted as a hero for the calm, poise and dignity he maintained throughout his detention by the Pakistani army.
Myriad videos and pictures had gone viral on social media where the IAF pilot was seen being captured and held captive by Pakistani villagers before handing him over to the Pakistani army.
Commissioned into the IAF in the year 2004, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman showed exceptional valour by taking down much sophisticated F-16 fighter jets of Pakistani Air Force in an aerial dogfight that ensued over the skies of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
While engaging PAF's aircraft, Abhinandan's MiG 21 burst into flames and came down swiftly, due to which he had to eject and descend on the Pakistani territory.
The IAF pilot's release is being viewed as a big diplomatic win for India, which mounted aggressive political and international pressure on Pakistan to release Wing Commander Abhinandan back home.India since its strike on JeM's terror den in Balakot, Pakistan has also been trying to build maximum pressure on neighbouring country to take action against terrorists operating from its soil.