Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry was in the patio of his house in Horra’n village, located barely 7km from the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Bhimber district, at about 8:45am on Wednesday when the “smoke and sound” made him understand that a dogfight was going on up above in the sky.
Upon watching them particularly, the 58-year-old political and social activist of the area noticed that two aircraft had caught fire but while one of them sped across the LoC, the other burst into flames and came down rapidly.
Its debris fell more than one kilometre away from the house of Mr Razzaq towards the eastern side in an empty field.
Mr Razzaq said he saw a parachute dropping towards the ground, which made landing around one kilometre away from his house but on the southern side.
“A pilot emerged out of the parachute safely and sound,” he told Dawn from Horra’n village by telephone.
Mr Razzaq said he had in the meantime made calls to numerous youngsters in the village, asking them not to go close to the ruins until the arrival of the army group but get hold of the pilot.
The pilot, who was equipped with a pistol, asked the youngsters whether it was India or Pakistan. On this, one of them aptly replied that it was India. The pilot, later recognised as Wing Commander Abhi Nandan, yelled some slogans and asked which place specifically it was in India.
To this, the same boy responded that it was Qilla’n.
The pilot notified them that his “back was broken” and he needed water to drink.
Some passionate youth, who could not assimilate the slogans, shouted Pakistan army zindabad. On this, Abhinandan shot fire in the air while the boys picked up stones in their hands.
According to Mr Razzaq, the Indian pilot ran a range of half a kilometre in backward direction while aiming his pistol towards the boys who were chasing him.
During this active movement, he fired some more gunshots in the air to scare them but to no avail, he said. Then he plunged into a small pond where he took out some records and maps from his pockets, some of which he tried to swallow and drowned others in the water.
The boys kept on urging him to drop his weapon and in the meanwhile, one boy fired at his leg, Mr Razzaq said.
Eventually, he came out and said he should not be shot. The boys got hold of him from both arms. Some of them roughed him up, in a fit of anger, while others kept on stopping them.
In the meantime, army personnel reached there and took him into their charge and saved him from the madness of the youths, he said.
“Thank God, none of the enraged boys shot him dead because he had given them quite a tough time,” he said.
The confined pilot was then taken to an army base in Bhimber in a convoy of military vehicles.
As the convoy passed through Khalil Chowk of Bhimber city, some 50km away from Horra’n, it was attended by dozens of cheerful citizens standing on both sides of the road. They showered rose petals on the military vehicles, amid slogans like Long Live Pakistan army, Long Live Pakistan Air Force, Long Live Pakistan and Long Live Kashmir.