The brief detention of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan in Pakistan would continue to haunt Indians for years to come regardless of their futile strives to portray him as a fearless hero.
The 35-year old Indian Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was rescued by Pakistan army from an enraged mob after he landed via parachute in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK).
The historic scenario was developed after Abhinandan’s MiG-21 was shot down by a Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) JF-17 Thunder fighter jet as the former intruded into Pakistan’s airspace on February 27, 2019. The Indian pilot remained under Pakistan army’s custody till his release on March 1.
While being in Pakistan, Wing Commander Abhinandan recorded his two video statements in which he eulogized Pakistan army’s professionalism and the kind gesture shown towards him.
However his one-liner sentence even stole more lime light. “The tea is fantastic,” Abhinandan uttered when asked by a Pakistan Army Officer about the tea, he was drinking while being interviewed.
His ultimate return to India though somewhat alleviated the tension at Pak-India border; however, the Indian media especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in New Delhi led by Narendra Modi resorted to political point-scoring over Abhinandan.
Even the Indian Election Commission also had to take notice of the use of Abhinandan’s images by Modi in election posters to influence voters in upcoming Lok Sabha general elections, and warned the BJP to strictly comply with the code of conduct.
Simultaneously India also went through another embarrassing phase over Abhinandan’s tea remarks. For instance, a Café in London’s Oxford Street was named “Chaiiwala (Tea Seller)” with an image of Abhinandan holding a Cup of Tea.
Additionally, some critics on social media also took a jibe at the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reminding him of as what he used to be (a Tea Seller) in the past has now produced another person with the same trait in the Indian Air Force.