A museum dedicated to Pakistan’s Air Force has been accused by Indians of crossing a line by adding a new display featuring a mannequin of captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.
The Indian Air Force officer was captured by Pakistani forces after his plane was shot down on February 27, 2019 as the two sides engaged in a cross-border skirmish. He was held captive and interrogated before being released on March 1.
A clip of him filmed by his captors during interrogation and refusing to reveal information other than to say he was enjoying his cup of tea went viral at the time, with many Indians praising him for bravery. A photo shared by a Pakistani journalist on Twitter of the museum display shows Varthaman’s mannequin flanked by a mug, presumably containing his now-signature beverage.
PAF has put mannequin of Abhi Nandhan on display in the museum. This would be a more interesting display, if it they can arrange a Cup of FANTASTIC tea in his hand. pic.twitter.com/ZKu9JKcrSQ
— Anwar Lodhi (@AnwarLodhi) November 9, 2019
Indian Twitter users dismissed the stunt as indicative of Pakistan’s frustrations over their neighbor’s military might, while one remarked they’ve “never seen someone celebrating their [own] failure as much as Pakistan.”
Many joined in to question whether Indian museums would have sufficient capacity to hold mannequins of all the Pakistani soldiers captured by Indian forces, especially the 93,000 taken captive during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Some people, though, saw the mannequin exhibition in a more endearing and positive light, as a sign of the respect the pilot generated among his captors.
Indian tea will be given son but first sign on behalf of 93000 Pak troups to surrender Niazi. pic.twitter.com/AOac139PV3
— #Bagha Jatin (@JatinBagha) November 10, 2019
Pakistanis have become great fans of Wg Cdr Abhinandan who spoke like a boss even under the most trying & intimidating conditions inside an enemy country as a POW. After all statues are built for heroes. I appreciate the love and affection of Pakis towards Wg Cdr Abhinandan!
— 🐾🕄usy 🕄ee🐝 (@psbabu) November 10, 2019
Images from the mannequin exhibit come amid ongoing high tensions between the neighboring states. However, both sides are showing signs of willingness to coordinate on some matters. On Saturday, India’s Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Imran Khan opened a new corridor to allow Sikh pilgrims pass between key holy sites across the border without a visa.
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