The alleged video of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, now in Pakistan custody, put out by Islamabad has seen the whole nation unite to demand his release. Social media is abuzz with calls condemning his custody and seeking his immediate release. Pakistan should follow international norms and not harm the pilot who might be treated as prisoner of war (PoW).
The pilot is seen bleeding from his forehead and his eyes are covered by a cloth. A member of the Surya Kiran Acrobatic Team,
the pilot is said to have been captured when he led the MiG 21 aircraft to chase away and shoot down a Pakistan F-16 aircraft that crossed into Indian airspace. The pilot is the son of a former Indian Air Force officer.
The Defence Ministry has, however, said an Indian pilot was 'missing in action' and that the government is ascertaining details of Pakistan's claim.
Pakistan Army claimed it shot down two Indian military aircraft over Pakistani air space and arrested two pilots.
The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday summoned Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner and had “strongly objected” to Islamabad’s “vulgar display” of the pilot.
It was “in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention”, it said.
The Ministry lodged a strong protest at unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India, including violation of the Indian air space by Pakistan Air Force and targeting of Indian military posts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting with NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and defence officials at his office.
The Ministry made it 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".
"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," a Ministry statement said.
Social media has tweets and posts decrying Pakistan action against the pilot. It was made clear that international protocol prohibits combat prisoners from being tortured and lays down the standards to be followed on treating them humanely.
Delhi Chief Minister Aravind Kejriwal tweeted: "I pray for the safety of Indian Air Force pilot... Whole country is proud of this brave son and everyone is hoping for his safe return. We all stand united to keep our country safe and strong."