Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district in February 14.
Something has fallen from the sky, a villager told an Army officer in Bhudal in Jammu and Kashmir’s Peer Panjal range on February 27, giving forces the clue they were looking for to establish that Pakistan had used an F-16 jet to attack India, officials recounted on Friday.
The ‘tehsil’, a cluster of 51 villages about 25 km from the district headquarters of Rajouri in Jammu region, has become the celebrated centre of intelligence cynosure since the villager’s account on the day that Pakistan violated Indian air space in Rajouri.
Officials also disclosed that the Pakistan Air Force fired 11 bombs at six military targets in Rajouri area in which a girl received splinter injuries.
February 27, the day after the strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is when aerial combat broke out between India and Pakistan for the first time since 1971.
“Kuch mila hai. Aasman se kuch gira hai. Humare ek aadmi ko lagi bhi (We have found something and it fell from sky. One of our persons is injured),” a villager is believed to have told an Army officer posted in a camp in Bhudal.
As tensions ran high along the Line of Control, a team was sent to see what had fallen from the sky, an official said, recounting events as they unfolded that dramatic day.
The team gathered the parts and returned to base in the area. It was handed over to Indian Air Force officials, who knew that they had struck a jackpot, he recalled.
The parts were that of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) which can be fired only from an F-16 aircraft.
The injured person, according to officials, is out of danger and his identity as well as that of the informer is being kept under wraps for security reasons.
India shared the details of the AMRAAM with the United States as well.
While Pakistan claims no F-16 jets were used, the US State Department has said America is seeking more information from Pakistan on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by it against India in violation of the end-user agreement.
PAF fired two AMRAAMs on February 27, officials here said. One fell at Bhudal and other hit an IAF MiG 21 Bison that led to the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by the Pakistani army.
The IAF pilot, who was released on March 1, fell four kilometres inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the officials said.
The soil from the crater caused by the bombs that fell in Rajouri has been taken by the Indian Air Force officials for a forensic study of the bombs used by the PAF, they said.
Fourteen of 51 villages in Bhudal, about 250 km from Srinagar and 200 km from Jammu, are close to the LoC.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 14.