Above are images of two IAF pilots shot down in Pakistan some 20 years apart.
On the left is Flight Lieutenant K Nachiketa, who was shot down during the Kargil conflict and taken into custody while Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on the right made headlines when his MiG-21 was brought down during an aerial engagement with PAF aircraft and he was subsequently rescued by Pak Army soldiers in full view of cameras and media.
However, while Abhinandan has falsely been given a somewhat the status of a hero in India, F/L Nachiketa's episode is nothing short of humiliation. Although both Indian pilots became POW while executing their duties, Nachiketa's citation doesn't read well.
''POW Flt.Lt Nachiketa was involved in the hostile attack on Pakistani positions. When his Mig-27 was shot down, he ejected and after landing on the ground he tried to escape. He fired on the Pakistani soldiers with his pistol but still, he could not escape and was captured. Later Indian government refused to take their alive pilot in front of the media and no one from Indian Embassy turned up to receive him and eventually he had to be handed over to Red Cross.''