India on Wednesday demanded immediate and safe return of its IAF pilot Abhinandan, captured by Pakistan after an aerial confrontation, and strongly objected to the neighbouring country's "vulgar display" of an injured defence personnel in violation of international norms.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on Wednesday after he ejected safely from his MiG 21 Bison aircraft but landed across the Line of Control, according to Pakistani claims. India has officially confirmed that one pilot is Missing in Action but has not confirmed or denied the claims regarding his identity.
Soon after his capture, Pakistan Army released a video showing a man blindfolded, who identifies himself as 'Abhinandan', a flying pilot with the IAF. The captured man in the video states, “I have got hurt.” Prompted by a man behind the camera to talk from the beginning, he says, “My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. My service number is 27981. I'm a flying pilot. My religion is Hindu."
When asked to identify his squadron, he refuses to reveal the information: "I am not allowed to tell you that, no." He then asks his captors whether he is in the custody of the Pakistan Army, and the video ends at that.
Pakistan has also claimed that its army personnel 'rescued' the pilot from locals threatening to lynch him after his aircraft was shot down.
In another unverified video, being widely shared on social media and on Pakistani news channels, Pakistani soldiers are seen shielding a bleeding man in IAF fatigue and escorting him to safety.
A third video, which could not be independently verified by Firstpost, shows the pilot sipping tea as he is being interrogated. The pilot, whose face appears swollen and injured, is enquired about his native place, his marital status, and the scope of his mission. He answers that he is married, and refuses to give the specifics about his hometown, citing protocol, and only mentions that he is from 'down south'. The pilot also firmly, but politely, refuses to say anything about why and how he reached there or the scope of his mission.
The pilot also 'praises' Pakistan Army personnel for being 'thorough gentlemen' and treating him well. On being asked that if he was treated well, the pilot responds saying, "Yes I have (been), and I would like to put this on record. And I will not change my statement if I go back to my country also. The officers of the Pakistan Army have looked after me very well, they are thorough gentlemen... This is what I would expect my army to behave as. I was very impressed."
India had summoned Pakistan's acting high commissioner in New Delhi to lodge a strong objection to the Pakistani aggression. India also made it clear to Pakistan that no harm should be caused to the Indian defence personnel in custody, the External Affairs Ministry said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Feb 28, 2019 09:02:43 IST