Kambampati Nachiketa – Captured & Tortured But Still An IAF Pilot

Indian armed forces have a repute of sacrifice for upholding the National pride in most horrendous situations. As our former president, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Quotes “We have not invaded anyone, we have not conquered anyone, and we have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them.”   Despite the broader outlook possessed by Indian philosophy, Wars have been enforced in India by constant enemy infiltration to our territory. Indian Armed forces have always retaliated to such heinous acts of the enemy in every occasion and Kargil War of 1999 is one such occasion where Indian armed forces took the fight to the high altitude Himalayan region and destroyed enemy camps.  Many unsung heroes have sacrificed themselves in Kargil War and Flight Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa is one such hero to be remembered for his gallant fight as a fighter pilot and his undeterred nature to overcome the terrific torture meted upon him as Prisoner of War during his captivity in Pakistani territory.

Career and Personal Information

Group Captain Nachiketa was born on 31 May 1973, his parents are  Mr. K R K Sastry and Mrs. Laxmi Sastry. He did schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya in New Delhi, got trained at the National Defence Academy in Pune and joined Indian Air Force.

The Kargil War Field

The Kargil War was at its peak on 26 May 1999, when Flight Lieutenant Nachiketa of No. 9 Squadron Indian Air Force was deployed to fly MIG-27 aircraft and destroy enemy concentration camps in Batalik Sector. He took up the mission to bombard enemy camps with 80mm rockets from an altitude of 17,000 feet on 26th May. He continued the operation for the next day, i.e. on 27th May 1999 by locking himself in an enemy camp and by continuously firing deadly 80mm rockets. Misfortune struck and his MIG-27 aircraft’s engine died as a Pakistani Stinger Missile struck it. Nachiketa tried his level best to re-ignite the engine but in vain. He was left with no option but to eject from the aircraft at a place called Munthudalo, an enemy territory in the snow-capped mountain region.  On landing on a rocky surface he could witness an iota in the sky which was his brave fellow pilot squadron leader Ajay Ahuja, who was hovering with MIG-21 to locate the landing place of his colleague. But to his shock, Ahuja’s flight got exploded by Pakistani Anza missile.

In Enemy Territory

On landing, Nachiketa could easily grab the gravity of the situation and started reiterating at aggressive enemies with his pistol. But finally, he was ambushed by the Pakistani troops and sent to a dungeon place in Rawalpindi. He was tortured by Pakistani troops to gather information about strategic plans. As Nachiketa has put in his own words “The Pakistani jawans tried to manhandle me and maybe also tried to kill me, for them, I was just an enemy pilot who had fired at them from the air. Fortunately, the senior officer who came was very mature. He realized the situation that I was now a captive and should not be manhandled or tortured.”


Nachiketa remained captive for eight days until June 3rd, 1999. With the mounting pressure from United Nations, International media and Indian Govt’s constant tracking, Pakistan army handed over him to International Committee of the Red Cross operating from Pakistan. He was repatriated at Wagah border on Amritsar-Lahore Road.

Flight Lieutenant K. Nachiketa, center, is received by Indian Air Force Vice Air Marshall Shashi K. Tyagi, right, at the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan Friday June 4, 1999. Flt.Lt. Nachiketa, a pilot in the Indian Air Force, was captured after ejecting from his aircraft during a mission over the disputed Kashmir region. He was released on Thursday in Pakistan but after visa delays made it to the India border on Friday. PC: bharat-rakshak.com

During his ejection from Flight Lieutenant Nachiketa had received a severe blow to his spine and due to a spine injury, he was advised not to fly Fighter Flights in future. But Nachiketa’s zeal to be part of Indian Air Force had not diminished. He was posted as Group Captain to fly Ilyushin Il-78 midair refueling transport aircraft for No. 78 Squadron IAF stationed at Agra. Flight Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa is honored with Vayu Sena Gallantry Medal for his exemplary service during the Kargil war. Kalam Fan Club wishes this maestro of Indian Air Force healthier life to serve the nation in future too.

One Response

  1. Swati Ray July 26, 2017

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