Wing Commander and IAF hero Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India last week after being captured by Pakistan, was subjected to loud music and bright lights to keep him sleep-deprived in the first 24 hours since he was captured, ThePrint quoted top sources in the security and defence establishment as saying. The report added that the purpose of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, was to keep Varthaman disoriented and break him down.
The report came close on the heels of Varthaman’s earlier statement in which he had reportedly told Indian officials that that Pakistani authorities did not physically torture him in his nearly 60-hour stay in their custody, but he was subjected to considerable ''mental harassment".
Varthaman was captured on February 27 by Pakistan following a dogfight between the two air forces in which his MIG-21 was shot down. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a day later that they would release him -- seen as a major step towards defusing a near-war situation triggered by India's retaliation over Pakistan's continued support for terrorism.
ThePrint report, which quoted sources, added that Varthaman was not allowed to sleep in the first 24 hours he was in Pakistan’s custody.
“Wing Commander Abhinandan was subjected to torture while he was in the custody of the Pakistan Army. He was not allowed to sleep for the first 24 hours and was subjected to loud music and bright lights to keep him awake,” a source told ThePrint.
Varthaman arrived in the national capital by an IAF flight at around 11:45 PM on Friday, nearly two-and-half hours after he crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border. The IAF pilot was first taken to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialised medical evaluation centre for aircrew of all the three services. Later, he was brought to the Army’s Research and Referral hospital.
In a tweet, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she met Varthaman and his family to “commend him on his valour, express the nation’s gratitude for his selfless service, and wish him a speedy recovery”. After he was captured, Varthaman showed courage and grace in handling the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and people in general.
MRI reports of Varthaman have revealed that the fighter pilot suffered spinal injury as he ejected from his plane after it was shot down. The officer will undergo more check-ups and treatment at the Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi Cantonment for next 10 days. Medical reports also revealed that Pakistan has not planted any bugs in Varthaman's body.
(With PTI inputs)