Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Wednesday evening met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Services chiefs after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets intruded into the Indian territory across the Line of Control (LoC) and downed one Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jet, capturing its pilot.
The Prime Minister learnt to have discussed the evolving situation at the meeting, also attended by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.
The PAF fighter aircraft made a shallow incursion across the LoC (maximum of 6-7 km deep, as per sources) on Wednesday morning and aimed at military installations. The exact number of planes in the Pakistani pack could not be ascertained.
But they were detected by the Combat Air Patrol as the Indian Mig 21 Bison aircraft scrambled. The Pakistani aircraft dropped their payload at four places.
One of the Mig 21 Bisons got to lock a Pakistani aircraft and fired an R-73 air-to-air missile that hit it.
“It was not exactly known if it was an F-16 or JF 17 as the debris fell on their (Pakistani) side. But 90 per cent chances were that it was an F-16. Hitting an F-16 with a Mig 21 is quite an achievement as the two planes are generations apart,” a source told IANS.
Pakistan, too, downed an Indian Mig 21 and captured its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan, alive. India has sought his immediate release.
Sources said the armed forces have apprised the political leadership of available options “along with pros and cons”.
“The Indian armed forces are always ready to act for the security and sovereignty of the country. It is up to the political leadership to take a decision,” the source said.
A source in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said at this stage it was difficult to say how the entire scenario would unfold.
“There is a huge difference between the situation yesterday and today. It is difficult to say how things would turn out over the next few days or even hours,” the source said.
In an address after the PAF strikes, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he does not want an escalation with India. Khan also said he could understand the pain of those who lost their own people in the Pulwama attack.