India and Pakistan are in and out war since independence, something Britishers always wanted us to be. Wars keep happening, from 1948, 1965 and 1999, things haven’t changed much, also love of a soldier for his motherland has remained similar and connecting to the above line, soldiers know how to treat their counterpart well. In some incidents, the soldiers of both sides have been very brutal but in some cases, there was kindness and respect for a soldier.
The war was at it’s peak at Kargil in 1999. Indian Air Force launched Operation Safed Sagar to finish the regular and irregular troops of Pakistan who intruded in Indian territories. It is one of the biggest operation by Indian Air Force where large scale use of air power was used.
Group Captain Nachiketa’s(Then Flt. Lt.) was serving during Kargil Operations for the Indian Air Force. He was one of the pilots of No.9 Squadron IAF, taking part in a strike at Batalik Sector. He was armed with 80 mm rockets.
His engine failed and Nachiketa ejected. Nachiketa evaded immediate capture because he was enough alert but he was captured after three hours by a Pakistani army patrol, he was kept at a undisclosed location at Batalik and then was taken Skardu by a chopper.
During his stay at a Pakistani prison, Nachiketa had recalled an incident, where the jawans who captured where trying to manhandle him and trying to kill him.
“The jawans who had captured me were trying to manhandle me and maybe trying to kill me, because for them, I was just an enemy pilot who had fired on their locations from the air. And on-ground, I was firing at them. Fortunately, the officer who came was very mature. He realised the situation, that I am now a captive and now I need not be handled that way. So he was able to control them, which was a big effort, because they were very aggressive at that stage,” quoted Group Captain K Nachiketa to NDTV.
Well, things can get hostile at war but gentleman and situations exist to the best of us. Nachiketa was lucky to find Air Commodore (retd) Kaiser Tufail, as the one who was leading the charge of the men who captured him.
Flight Lt. Nachiketa for an instance thought that his fate was moving towards the that of brave Captain Sourav Kalia and his men who faced unbelievable torture and gruesome human rights violations. But, fortunately, he was rescued by Tufail who stopped and told his men to behave with a soldier, like a soldier.
Nachiketa, when remembers about his arrest, told media that Tufail discussed about the heart problem of his father and about his sister’s marriage as well. Nachiketa was given vegetarian snacks to eat.
“I was detailed to talk to Nachiketa and it was a most friendly talk between two gentlemen officers. We had tea and some snacks and we rambled about flying…my mandate was to strictly maintain the cordiality of a crew room and to find out the circumstances of his ejection and the mission he was flying,” Tufail told The Indian Express in 2009.
Undoubtedly, there was so much in common for the officers to talk about. Nachiketa told him that he had taken a leave to get his sister married and Tufail related to it instantly.
“I was so amazed to find that there are so many issues in common. I asked him what he was doing before the mission and he said he had taken leave to help arrange his sister’s wedding. It is the same thing that brothers are required to do here.”, Tufail told Indian Express after ten years of the war.
There was a cordial chat which happened and both of the officers took each other as officer rather than taking as Indian or Pakistani. Nachiketa stayed in Pakistan for few more days and the foreign embassy of Pakistan announced that they have taken one POW.
When he returned to India, he also met the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Nachiketa coninues to serve in the Indian air force. He serves as a Group Captain and flies Ilyushin Il-78 transport aircraft. He was shifted to transports due to injuries he sustained during para- landing.