Anger over 'forced' video of Indian pilot amid new Kashmir deaths

Minnie Murray
March 3, 2019

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had welcomed the returned of the Wing Commander on Twitter after he returned to India through the Wagah-Attari border at around 9.25 pm on Friday. Dressed in a blue blazer and gray dress trousers, he was greeted by Indian policemen and military personnel on the Indian side.

Indian air force officials who received the pilot said they were happy to have him back.

The Wing Commander was also medically examined here, considering the fact that he had ejected after his MiG 21 was shot down in PoK air space while chasing Pakistani fighter planes which had transgressed into Indian air space on February 27. India's military said that Pakistan was firing mortar shells across the LoC.

Varthaman was accompanied to the border Friday by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Indian police said two paramilitary soldiers and two counterinsurgency police officials were killed in a gunbattle with militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir, while troops fatally shot a civilian during anti-India protests.

However shelling across the Line of Control (LoC) that acts as a de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region, a frequent feature in recent weeks, continued, said military officials on both sides.

Tensions spiraled dangerously after Pakistani jets crossed into Indian territory in response to India's bombing of a suspected terrorist camp inside Pakistan a day earlier.

According to Pentagon's Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) F-16 jets were meant to be used to "enhance Pakistan's ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations". U.S. President Donald trump in Hanoi on Thursday said he had been involved in seeking to de-escalate the conflict.

Media captionFootage appears to show wreckage from a downed Indian jet What happened to the pilot? Pakistan says it will free a captured Indian pilot this Friday. The IAF is making the pilot undergo medical tests to assure he is healthy and has not sustained any threatening injury.

The text was accompanied by a picture of the new Indian jersey and on the back was written Wing Commander Abhinandan with the kit number 1. "We will have to wait and see".

India's feverish social media also slammed the video, which was tweeted by the Pakistan government but later taken off its official account.

The agency issued a statement on Friday saying all domestic and worldwide flights will be allowed to and from the cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. It said other airports, including one in the eastern city of Lahore that borders India, would remain closed until Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India is changing fast these days and what the country does is quickly taken note of by the world too.

For its part, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its concern about escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, calling on the parties to have a constructive political and diplomatic dialogue as it is the only effective and acceptable way of solving the crisis, Tengri News reported on Friday.

Pakistan - which denies any involvement in the 14 February attack - said it had no choice but to retaliate to the Indian raids with air strikes on Wednesday.

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