India demands safe return of IAF officer immediately
New Delhi raps Pak for ‘vulgar display’ of the injured pilot in its detention
India has taken strong exception to “vulgar display” by Pakistan of an injured IAF pilot in its detention and demanded his immediate and safe return. Pakistan detained Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control in which a Pakistani jet was downed. The IAF also lost a MiG 21 jet in the engagement.
India has asked Pakistan to ensure that no harm should be caused to Wing Commander Abhinandan, said the External Affairs Ministry, adding it has conveyed strong objection to the neighbouring country at the “vulgar display” of an injured personnel in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention.
“It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” the MEA said.
News agency PTI reported that Pakistan Army released two videos of the captured IAF pilot — one showing him blindfolded and bloodied and another while having tea. In both videos, he is seen answering questions in a composed and stoic manner.
The Wing Commander, whose MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force while engaged in hot pursuit to repel enemy attack on Wednesday, ejected safely but landed across the Line of Control and was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army.
There were other video clips on the social media where he could be seen beaten by locals while lying in a stream before being taken away by Pakistani soldiers. The veracity of the videos could not be ascertained.
Later, the Pakistanis released a clip showing the blindfolded officer with blood flowing down his cheek, identifying himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan. In the video, he refused to answer any question, except for giving his ID number, designation and marital status.
However, the video released through Twitter was withdrawn within minutes, keeping in view the Geneva Convention dictating that a prisoner of war should not be shown publicly in a humiliating manner.
Hours later, the Pakistan Army released another video, lasting 1.19 minutes, where Abhinandan can be seen drinking tea, cleaned up but with his face bruised and eyes swollen. The officer again answers questions with composure and no display of fear.
To most queries, he says he is sorry as he is not supposed to divulge any details. “I hope you like the tea,” someone is heard asking. “It is fantastic,” he answers.
After the release of these videos, Pakistani Acting High Commissioner was summoned on Wednesday afternoon by the MEA to lodge a strong protest at the unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India, including by violation of the Indian air space and targeting of Indian military posts.
“This is in contrast to the India’s non-military anti-terror pre-emptive strike at a JeM terrorist camp in Balakot on February 26. It is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its international obligation and bilateral commitment to take credible action against terrorist entities and individuals operating from its soil, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India,” the MEA said.
“It was clearly conveyed that India reserves the right to take firm and decisive action to protect its national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any act of aggression or cross-border terrorism,” said the MEA.
It said regret was expressed at continuing denial by Pakistan’s political and military leadership at the presence of terrorist infrastructure in territories under its control.
“A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side with specific details of JeM complicity in Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan,” the MEA said.
“It was conveyed that India expects Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorism emanating from territories under its control,” it said.
Thursday, 28 February 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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