INDIA has demanded the release of a fighter pilot shot down, captured and beaten in Pakistan amid a major escalation between the two nuclear powers over disputed territory.
Video showing Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman blindfolded and drenched in blood was shared by Pakistan’s information ministry as war fears loom.
The recent conflict at the border dividing Indian and Pakistani territory in Kashmir is the first since a war in 1971 which saw more than 11,500 soldiers killed.
Images have circulated of the Indian Air Force pilot Varthaman being savagely attacked by residents in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir shortly after he was blasted out of the sky.
Pakistani soldiers appear to intervene by creating a barrier to stop locals punching and kicking him.
A ‘VULGAR DISPLAY’
The clips prompted a furious response from India, with officials condemning the footage as a “vulgar display of an injured personnel”.
Pakistan’s military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor hit back saying the pilot was being “treated as per norms of military ethics”.
More footage then surfaced showing Varthaman without a blindfold, sipping tea after being cleaned up.
He looks in good spirits and thanks his captors for a “fantastic” cuppa, and says he is being taken care of by the Pakistan army and expected the same gesture for any Pakistani officer by the Indian army.
It was in stark contrast to the earlier video circulated by the military of Varthaman in which he was blindfolded, with his feet and hands tied and blood running down his face – seemingly in violation to Geneva Convention rules that prohibit public displays of prisoners
The Hindu Times newspaper quoted one of the his relatives urging the government to “secure his release” without delay.
Tensions heightened as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made a chilling nuke hint as a war of words emerged between officials in both countries on social media.
During a televised address, Khan asked the chilling question: “Can we afford any miscalculation with the kind of weapons that we have and you have?”
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The statement came on a day when both sides had shot down each others warplanes.
Before the planes were downed India had blasted what it said was a military camp in Pakistan as retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 Indian troops in Kashmir.
A Pakistan-based group claimed the attack – the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.
Crowds of Kashmir residents and Pakistani soldiers gathered at the crash site of an Indian war plane after it was blasted out oft the sky[/caption]
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