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Happy officer will return, Pakistan gesture in line with Geneva Convention: IAF

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG 21 was shot as he bailed out after bringing down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the ariel dogfight on Wednesday morning, Air Vice Marshal said.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2019 21:46 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, Press Trust of India
Geneva convention,Abhinandan Varthaman,MiG 21
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG 21 was shot as he bailed out after bringing down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet: IAF (ANI photo)

The Indian Air Force Thursday said it is very happy that captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is returning home but dismissed suggestions that it was a goodwill gesture, insisting that “gesture in consonance with Geneva Convention”.

“We are very happy Abhinandan will be freed tomorrow and look forward to his return,” Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, said at the joint defence briefing.

Wing Commander Varthaman’s MiG 21 was shot as he bailed out after bringing down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the ariel dogfight on Wednesday morning, Air Vice Marshal said. He has been in Pakistan since then. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament on Thursday that Varthaman would be released on Friday as a “peace gesture”.

Also Watch: Opinion I Why IAF pilot’s release may not immediately de-escalate tensions

Asked if the IAF sees it as a goodwill move, he said, “We see it as a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Conventions.” He was addressing the media along with the representatives of the Army and the Navy, who both said the armed forces are on high alert and ready to meet any security challenge on land and sea.

Tensions between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. It came 12 days after the JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.

Air Vice Marshal said it was up to the political leadership to decide when and how to release evidence of the Balakot strike’s success. He was responding to a question that there was some scepticism about whether IAF fighters had hit the intended targets.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 20:22 IST