Concern over safety of missing pilot after Pak claims he has been captured
New Delhi, Feb 27: With Pakistan on Wednesday claiming that it has captured the missing pilot of the downed IAF plane, leaders of various parties expressed concern over the well-being of the officer and voiced hope that he will return soon.
India has said it is ascertaining Pakistan's claim after the Pakistan Army released a 46-second video showing a blindfolded man claiming he is IAF's Wing Commander Abhinandan.
"I'm sorry to hear that one of our brave IAF pilots is missing. I hope he will return home soon, unharmed. We stand by our armed forces in these difficult times," Congress president Rahul Gandhi said.
DMK leader M K Stalin urged the Centre "to do everything necessary to get him safely back home at the earliest". The hashtags 'BringBackAbhinandan' and 'Abhinandan' were trending on the social media, where people were appealing for efforts for the safe return of the officer.
Taking to Twitter, the leaders said their thoughts are with the family and friends of the pilot and the whole country is standing with them.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said Pakistan should treat the pilot "as you would have us treat one of your men in uniform should he be unfortunate enough to be captured on this side of the border", while AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said Islamabad must respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and treat him humanely.
In a joint statement, leaders of 21 parties who met here condemned the Pakistani "misadventure" and expressed their "deep concern for the safety of our missing pilot".
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the 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 (sic)," the Aam Aadmi Party chief tweeted.
Abdullah also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi "must suspend his political activities until the pilot is returned safely and that he had suggested the opposition parties to also put off their meeting in Delhi.
"It can't be business as usual with him criss-crossing the country at tax payer expense making political speeches while our pilot is a Pakistani captive," Abdullah said in a series of tweets.
Owaisi said:"Our prayers are with the brave IAF pilot & his family in this very difficult time.
"Under Article 3 of Geneva Conventions every party is required to treat prisoners humanely. Pakistan must respect its obligations towards the IAF pilot, regardless of ongoing circumstances."
India said Wednesday a pilot is "missing in action" after it foiled Pakistan's attempts to target military installations by using its Air Force in response to India's counter-terrorism
In a very brief press statement, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, accompanied by Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, said details are being ascertained about Pakistan's claim of having captured one Indian pilot.
"Against this Counter Terrorism Action, Pakistan has responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side. Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan's attempts were foiled successfully," Kumar said.
He said the Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly.
"In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side.
"In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts," he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav tweeted: "I am praying for the safe return of our brave pilot. May God protect you and give you courage and strength. The nation stands with you."