Crowds gather at border for Indian pilot’s release

02 March, 2019, 07:42 | Author: Amy Huff
  • Pakistan partially re-opens airspace, ready to hand over Indian pilot

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the Wagah-Attari border at around 9pm local time (1600 GMT) on Friday, hours later than expected and sporting a black eye.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said late on Wednesday that it "strongly objected to Pakistan's vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force" after images of the pilot's capture were circulated.

The IAF pilot was earlier accompanied by officials of the Indian High Commission led by Group Captain J.D. Kurian.

Pakistan handed over a captured combat pilot to India on Friday, and he was being taken for medical checks, an Indian defence official said. Indian media reports said India wanted to send a special plane to bring back the 35-year-old wing commander, but Pakistan turned down the request.

A day before Pakistan downed the Indian jet, the Indian Air Force said its jets launched airstrikes against terrorists inside Pakistan. "He showed a lot of bravery in the air combat and even after being captured by the Pakistanis", Jitender, a resident of Amritsar, who arrived in Attari with his friends, said. "Senior team of the Indian Air Force will receive the Indian pilot". It said it also foiled an attack by Pakistan warplanes over Kashmir and shot down one Pakistani plane.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian authorities after crashing in Pakistan.

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Abhinandan Varthaman was forced to eject and landed into the Pakistani side of Line of Control, where he was captured.

"As a gesture of peace and to de-escalate matters, the Indian pilot who is under arrest with us will be released today in the afternoon at the Wagah border", he told lawmakers.

The agency issued a statement saying all domestic and worldwide flights will be allowed to and from the cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier on Thursday warned "India's enemies are conspiring to create instability in the country through terror attacks".

The CAA said the airspace have been opened for commercial flights while the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) will resume it's operation from Saturday morning from these airports. The country had closed its airspace on Wednesday following the escalation, causing disruptions to global air traffic. More than 200 people fled to a military organized camp about 20 kilometers (16 miles) away from the border. The countries have fought three wars, two directly related to the disputed region. She said that India has been slapped in the face through befitting response to uncalled for aggression.

Tensions soared this week when at least one Indian Air Force jet was shot down by Pakistan in the disputed area of Kashmir.

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