News Desk |
Six Indian Air Force officers and a civilian were killed after an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam on Wednesday morning, a senior police officer told NDTV. The crash took place in the backdrop of a retaliatory strike by Pakistan Air Force aircraft and was followed by two Indian MiG21s shot down and a pilot captured. However, the crash of the helicopter has been ground in mystery.
Indian media has quickly jumped on the bandwagon that the “crash” was due to bad weather and technical fault. However, Indian media themselves have reported local witnesses stating that the helicopter broke into two and fell after being struck by “something”.
The Indian govt was at great pains to emphasize that they had somehow avenged PAF’s retaliatory strike into IOK. But perhaps this “Pakistani aircraft” shot down is sourced in the fog of war than black propaganda.
According to the Kashmir Reader, A local resident, who identified himself as Syed Arshad, narrated how the crash happened. “It was 10:09 in the morning; we had just finished our morning tea when we saw a chopper flying too close to our houses,” he said.
“It created panic in the area. When we came out of our homes to investigate, we found that the chopper had caught fire and flames were rising out of it. It fell down in the open in paddy fields,” Arshad said.
According to the Greater Kashmir, A witness said he saw an aircraft in flames coming down at Garend-Kalan village. “It fell on the ground with a loud bang and a thick cover of smoke and flames started emanating from it. I called a local police officer and informed him about the incident. Till the police reached the spot, locals tried to pull out those on board,” said Showkat Ahmad, a local resident.
Read more: “We lost MiG 21 and a pilot”: India admits
However, Indian media was beset on the Indian helicopter having crashed due to “glitch”. Indian reporters parroting the line were immediately taken to task by Social Media.
Barkha, Crashed? or Shot Down? Why mislead Indian public? https://t.co/xvOlJlZuYw
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) February 27, 2019
Meanwhile, Indian media was at great pain to paint the fatal crash of the helicopter as “an accident” and not a strike by PAF JF17s.
There is no relation between the chopper which crashed accidentally in budgam with the airspace violation that occurred 200 kilometers away in Rajouri.
— Raj Shekhar Jha (@rajshekharTOI) February 27, 2019
Idiot. This is from Budgam. Far away from LoC. This is MI17 transport carrier that crashed due to an unfortunate technical snag. We lost four brave men. Don’t stoop so low in your cowardice that you share fake news to satisfy bloodlust. Ask your Army to stop proxy war in Kashmir. https://t.co/0cBkAQyRWU
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 27, 2019
You need to get your geography correct. This is Budgam. PAKISTAN jets violated in Noushera a completely different area.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) February 27, 2019
Their view was actually corroborated by Pakistan DG ISPR Major General Abdul Ghafoor who stated that Pakistan had nothing to do with the crash in Budgam.
DG ISPR, Pakistan, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor: There are reports of crash of an Indian aircraft on the Indian side (in Budgam), we had no engagement with that aircraft. pic.twitter.com/pWDYwVfoFR
— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2019
International observers meanwhile also ruled out that Pakistani JF17s that were used in retaliation could not have struck down the helicopter as it was too far into Indian Occupied Kashmir.
#BREAKING: This is the burning wreckage of #India Air Force's Mi-17V-5 which crashed near Srinagar airport. It is located within 120km from #Pakistan's territory which makes it impossible for #Pakistan to have shot it down by means of any SAM system or even fighter jets. pic.twitter.com/9Uiu3jbGO0
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) February 27, 2019
An attack would also have gone against the perimeters of the Pakistani engagement which called for attacks without collateral damage as well as engagement from within its side of the Line Of Control. This leads to a new dimension of the Indian claims that ‘it had shot down a Pakistani aircraft”. While the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesmen in a terse press briefing gave a one-liner that looked more like a run of the mill propaganda than anything else. In fact, the MEA conference was roundly criticized by Indian circles.
MEA briefing was a complete disaster. Poor show.
— Krishan Partap Singh (@RaisinaSeries) February 27, 2019
Considering the fact that the only @MEAIndia spoke from a short written statement and didn’t take questions, why was Air Vice Marshal there? And why couldn’t this be released as a written statement.
— Nistula Hebbar (@nistula) February 27, 2019
"Unfortunately, we have lost our MiG-21 fighter aircraft. Pilot missing," India's MEA. Indian MEA reads out a prepared statement. Didn't take any questions. Like yesterday. Indian anchors on all-time low. Morale down. Josh khatam, janab.
— Gowhar Geelani (@gowhargeelani) February 27, 2019
— Sheikh Usman (@SheikhMdUsman) February 27, 2019
The Indian govt was at great pains to emphasize that they had somehow avenged PAF’s retaliatory strike into IOK. But perhaps this “Pakistani aircraft” shot down is sourced in the fog of war than black propaganda. The Pakistani side also faced it when the government erroneously thought it had two Indian pilots in custody in place of one.
The Russian defense ministry said Israeli jets put the Il-20 plane into the path of Syrian air defense systems after failing to give Moscow enough warning of a strike on Syrian targets.
It was perhaps in this fog of war that the Mi17v was shot down by Indian fire in IOK. Budgam while at least 120 km away from the LoC but it is only 27.3 km away from Srinagar where the airbase containing Indian MiG 21 interceptors are situated. It is plausible that during Pakistan’s nonfatal retaliatory strike that Indian air defenses or scrambling aircraft mistook their own helicopter as an enemy plane (conflated by Indian media as a F16) and shot it down.
These are the 3 MiG-21 fighter jets of #Indian Air Force for Quick Reaction Alert duty at Srinagar AFS. The 51sq of Indian AF's 1st Wing has 16 to 18 MiG-21Bison there to protect #India's airspace over and near #Kashmir. If they had Su-30MKI there, this had not happened! pic.twitter.com/JuQNyBtg68
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) February 27, 2019
It was this act of shooting down that was mistakenly reported by the Indian side as a “Pakistani aircraft” shot down. Such mistakes are common in violent conflicts the most recent was the downing of a Russian airplane in Syria on 18 September 2018. The Il-20 aircraft was returning to a Russian base on the north-western coast of Syria when it was shot down by Syrian defenses during an aerial incursion by Israeli jets. The Russian defense ministry said Israeli jets put the Il-20 plane into the path of Syrian air defense systems after failing to give Moscow enough warning of a strike on Syrian targets.
So it is plausible that the Mi17v was a victim of its own people who were in a panic or fog of war. So in order to deflect from this self-goal, Indian media is on overdrive in claiming an F16 was shot down, which has been clarified that were not used in the operation.