Abhinandan Varthaman, the Indian Air Force Wing Commander who was in Pakistan’s captivity after he ejected from his plane when it took a hit on February 27, was grilled by the Pakistani forces trying to extract crucial information on Indian troop deployment, high-security radio frequencies and sensitive logistics during the first 24 hours of his captivity, according to a senior officer debriefing the 35-year-old fighter pilot. The official, who is part of a team debriefing Varthaman after he walked back into India across the Wagah border on March 1, said the Wing Commander was deprived of sleep, choked and even beaten up by his captors in Pakistan, according to a Hindustan Times report.
At least three to four separate teams comprising a select group of officers are debriefing Wing Commander Varthaman on various aspects of his captivity.
During his captivity, Varthaman was made to stand for long hours and subjected to loud music to increase his discomfort, the official said, requesting anonymity. The official also added that Varthaman showed immense resilience even as Pakistani officers tried to extract information from him about the frequencies that the IAF uses to transmit messages, deployment of fighter jets and logistical arrangements.
All fighter pilots in India are taught to hold back for as long as possible when captured so that transmitting frequencies and deployments can be changed in the first 24 hours to deny the adversary any advantage, the officer said. “Wing Commander Abhinandan did exactly that,” the officer said.
The Print quoted top sources in the security and defence establishment as saying that Varthaman was subjected to bright lights, loud music to keep him disoriented and break him down. The report came close on the heels of Varthaman’s earlier statement in which he had reportedly told Indian officials that Pakistani authorities did not physically torture him in his nearly 60-hour stay in their custody, but he was subjected to considerable ''mental harassment".
MRI reports of Varthaman have revealed that the fighter pilot suffered spinal injury as he ejected from his plane after it was shot down. The officer is undergoing more check-ups and treatment at the Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi Cantonment. Medical reports also revealed that Pakistan had not planted any bug in Varthaman's body.