Beaten by locals and eventually captured by the Pakistani army, the bloody yet calm videos of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is seen by most Indians (later IAF asked everyone to stop circulating the videos). The pilot crashed in the wrong side of LoC during a fierce engagement with Pakistani jets. India demanded a safe return of the pilot immediately and we hope the same happens soon. This recent incident, however, rekindles the memory of Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa.
Who is he? Well, Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa was the first prisoner of war of 1999 Kargil war. He was also the only one. Soon after his capture, India used international pressure on Pakistan and after 8 days he was finally released.
We pray for the fast release of Abhinandan Varthaman. Meanwhile, let us tell you the story of Braveheart Kambampati Nachiketa.
With deadly 80 mm rockets, his duty was to hit the enemy targets while flying at altitudes higher than 17,000 feet. On of May 27, 1999, he started striking the enemy posts from his MiG 27 fighter aircraft. However, his aircraft experienced engine failure and forcefully he had to eject. Soon, he was taken hostage by Pakistani forces.
Being a brave son of India, he fought with the Pakistani soldiers till his pistol ran out of bullets. He was then captured and taken to Rawalpindi. His captors brutally tortured him until a senior officer intervened and put a stop to the situation.
During an earlier interview, Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa said:
‘The jawans who had captured me were trying to manhandle me and maybe trying to kill me because, for them, I was just an enemy pilot who had fired on their locations from the air… Fortunately, the officer who came was very mature. He realized the situation that I am now a captive and now I need not be handled that way. So he was able to control them, which was a big effort because they were very aggressive at that stage.’
Being in such a situation is enough to break someone’s spirit. He thought he was never going to return but the brave soul didn’t betray his country. While retelling the horrifying period of his life to media, he said:
‘It was very tough. I can’t describe that experience in words. That time I thought maybe death is a simpler solution. But I am thankful to God that destiny was on my side. I underwent severe mental and physical torture there for three-four days.’
After eight days he was released but by that time he was suffering from a compression fracture. It was caused because of ejecting from 18,000 feet. It took him years to heal and finally, he resumed flying in 2003. He was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for his bravery in 2000.