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India Calls for Safe Return of Pilot in Pakistan Custody

India has demanded the immediate release of the Air Force fighter pilot who was missing in action after he engaged with Pakistani jets in a major escalation between the two nuclear powers over Kashmir.

The Indian Air Force pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan, had been reported “missing in action” by Indian officials.

The pilot appeared in a bloodied uniform as he gave his name and rank in a video released by the Pakistani armed forces. Asked by his interrogator to say more, he replied: “I am sorry, sir, that’s all I’m supposed to tell you.”

The Indian ministry of external affairs said it “strongly objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian air force in violation of all norms of international humanitarian law”.

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The video, however, was soon removed from their official Twitter accounts by the Pakistan government. According to experts, Pakistan had violated the conventions by releasing a purported video showing him tied up and bloodied on social media.

It came after India struck what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 Indian troops in Kashmir on 14 February.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, making reference to both countries’ nuclear arsenals and said the latest airstrikes were deployed from inside Pakistan-held territory and deliberately aimed at empty fields to send a message. “It was our plan that there should be no collateral damage, no casualties,” he said in his televised address.

“We just wanted to tell India that we have the capability that if you can come into our country, then we can also go into your country and carry out an operation.”

But India rejected his account of the operation. “[Pakistan] used its air force to target a military installation on the Indian side,” the spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, told Raveesh Kumar.

>Juthy Saha

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