THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 28 FEBRUARY 2019 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16+4 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR WEATHER Mainly clear sky with cold day conditions. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 21 and 07 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: 0.2 MM RELATIVE HUMIDITY IAF pilot captured; Pak F16 shot down Videos of IAF pilot show him bloodied, blindfolded but composed and stoic; two JeM militants killed in Shopian encounter SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 27 FEBRUARY Max.95% Min. 63% Max: 20.0°C (-6) SUN RISES 06:47 hrs MOON RISES 03:10 hrs Min: 9.5°C (-3) SUN SETS 18:20 hrs MOON SETS 13:02 hrs TEMPERATURE THUMBNAILS US President Donald Trump with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on AFP Wednesday. Trump-Kim Summit: US President Donald K Trump shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the start of their second summit Wednesday and predicted successful talks with the totalitarian state over its nuclear weapons. Trump foresaw a “very successful” summit as the pair greeted each other at the luxury Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi to follow up on their initial historic meeting in P12 Singapore in June. Nepal minister among 7 killed in helicopter crash: Nepal's Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari and six others were killed on Wednesday when a private helicopter crashed in eastern Nepal's mountainous Taplejung district. Besides the minister, the helicopter was carrying prominent aviation and hospitality entrepreneur Ang Tsering P13 Sherpa and a Nepal Army personnel. US House blow for Trump: The US House of Representatives dealt a blow to President Trump on Tuesday, approving a resolution blocking him from obtaining funding for a Mexican border wall. Dismissing a veto threat by the president, the Democratic-controlled House struck down Trump's emergency declaration by a margin of 245-182, sending the P12 measure to the Republican-held Senate. Red alert sounded for Delhi Metro: A red alert was sounded for the entire Delhi Metro Wednesday by the DMRC amid Indo-Pak tension. “As advised by security agencies, a red alert has been imposed on the entire DMRC network from 6 pm onwards,” a DMRC official said. “After a red alert is sounded, all station controllers are required to inspect entire station premises for any suspicious items or activity, including in parking lots, and report to the control centre every 2 hours.” A n IAF pilot was in Pakistani custody and a Pakistani fighter jet F 16 shot down, New Delhi said on Wednesday as fears of war darkened India-Pakistan relations with Islamabad launching retaliatory strikes and claiming it has arrested an Indian pilot in its territory. ThePakistanArmyretracted its earlier statement that two Indian Air Force pilots were arrested and in the evening said it had “only one” pilot in its custody. “There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody.Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics,” Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said in the evening. IAF sources identified him asWing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Pakistan Army released two videos of captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthmaan -- one showing him blindfolded and bloodied and another while having tea. In both videos, he is seen answering questions in a composed and stoic manner. The wing commander, whose MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force while engaged in hot pursuit to repel enemy attack onWednesday, ejected safely but landed across the Line of Control and Capture in the script CHENNAI, 27 FEBRUARY This may be mere coincidence or a twist of fate. But Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who Pakistan claims is in its custody, was the consultant for a Mani Ratnam movie, Kaatru Veliyidai, which is the story of a fighter pilot captured in Pakistan. Wing Commander Varthaman is the son of retired Air Marshal was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army. There were other video clips on social media where he could be seen beaten by locals while lying in a stream before being taken away by Pakistani soldiers. The veracity of the videos could not be ascertained. Later, the Pakistanis released a clip showing the blindfolded officer with blood flowing down his cheek, identifying himself as Simhakutty Varthaman, who was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal. When media tried to contact Air Marshal Varthaman, he refused to speak. He asked media persons not to contact him regarding his son's claimed capture and shut the gates of his Jalvayu Vihar home in Selayur near Tambaram, a suburb of Chennai where the IAF station is locatSNS ed. Wing Commander Abhinandan. In the video, he refused to answer any question, except for giving his ID number, designation and marital status. However, the video released throughTwitter was withdrawn within minutes, keeping in view the Geneva Convention dictating that a prisoner of war should not be shown publicly in a humiliating manner. Hours later, the Pakistan Army released another video, lasting 1.19 minutes, where Abhinandan can be seen drinking tea, cleaned up but with his face bruised and eyes swollen. The officer again answers questions with composure and no display of fear. To most queries, he says he is sorry as he is not supposed to divulge any details. “I hope you like the tea,” someone is heard asking.“It is fantastic,” he answers. A day after India bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp in Pakistan, it was a morning of developments moving with dizzying rapidity. Islamabad claimed it hit back at India by bringing down two Indian military aircraft, one of which crashed in Pakistan occupied Kashmir while the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir. Officials said a Pakistani Air Force F-16 fighter jet was shot down by Indian air defence forces in Jammu region's Rajouri sector. During the encounter, a MiG 21 was lost and the pilot was missing.Two Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)militants, including a Pakistani national, were killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Meemendar area of Shopian following informationaboutpresenceofmilitants there. They said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened fire towards the security forces, who retali(SEE ALSO PAGE 6) ated. 7 killed in IAF chopper crash in Kashmir SNS & PTI SRINAGAR, 27 FEBRUARY An IAF helicopter today crashed in Budgam district in central Kashmir, killing both its pilots and four others onboard besides a local resident, officials said. The helicopter crashed in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam at about 10.05 am, they said, adding seven bodies have been recovered from the scene. Besides the pilots, an operator and three other crew members lost their lives in the crash. Sources said that the chopper MI-17 had crashed due to some technical snag. Reports said that a 30year-old local resident, Kifayat Ahmad Ganaie, who was standing there was killed as the helicopter crashed. Three other villagers had a miraculous escape. The fuselage of the helicopter was burning when it crashed in an open area. The crash has come a day after the IAF targeted terrorist training camps in Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force violated the Indian airspace this morning and dropped bombs near four military installations. Khan for dialogue, warns India against ‘miscalculation’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA ISLAMABAD, 27 FEBRUARY Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday claimed that Indian pilots were detained after two MIGs were shot down, as he cautioned against any “miscalculation” in case of an escalation between the two nuclear-armed countries and offered to defuse tensions through talks. “Our action was only intended to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same. Two of their MiGs were shot down (in the ensuing action) and their pilots are with us,” Khan said in an address to the nation which was telecast live. His comments came minutes after the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said that Pakistan Air Force targeted military installations in India in response to Indian counterterrorism operations but their attempts were foiled successfully though one Indian pilot is “missing in action”. However, the Pakistan Army later said that “only one” Indian pilot was under their custody, retracting from its earlier statement that two IAF World powers ask India, Pakistan for restraint PRESS TRUST OF INDIA WASHINGTON/HANOI/LOND ON, 27 FEB The US, the UK, China, Russia and the European Union on Wednesday urged both India and Pakistan to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further military activity by the nuclear-armed neighbours. Tensions between India and Pakistan rose Wednesday after Pakistan claimed it shot down two Indian fighter jets over Pakistani air space and arrested a pilot. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tried to defuse the tension by saying war is futile and can lead to unknown consequences while making an oblique reference to the nuclear weapons that both countries possess. Worried over escalating tensions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke separately with foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, urging them to avoid “further military activity”. “I expressed to both ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” Pompeo (pic), who is accompanying President Donald Trump at the second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jongun, said in Vietnam. The US on Wednesday firmly asked Pakistan to take “meaningful action” against terrorist groups operating on its soil after India's counter-terrorism action against it and asked the two neighbours to exercise restraint and avoid escalation at any cost. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also called for avoiding military action. In a separate call with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Pompeo emphasised the close security partnership between the US and India and shared goal of maintaining peace and security in the region. In London, Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain is deeply concerned over rising tensions between India and Pakistan, urging both the nuclear-armed nations to exercise restraint to avoid further escalation. “The UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation. We are in regular contact with both coun- tries, urging dialogue and diplomatic solutions to ensure regional stability,” she said. In response to an urgent question on “The situation in Jammu & Kashmir” tabled during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session, May told the House of Commons that the UK remained in regular contact with both countries and was working towards de-escalating tensions. Russia has expressed “serious concern” over the escalation of tensions. Moscow called on both sides to exercise “restraint”, adding that existing problems should be solved by “political and diplomatic means”. For a second day, China urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and said the two sides should engage in dialogue to uphold the peace and stability in the region. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang's remarks came after Pakistan targeted military installations in India in response to Indian counterterrorism in Balakot. “I understand that in the latest development Pakistan says it had shot down two Indian aircraft and captured Indian pilots,” Lu said in Beijing. In Brussels, the European Union's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini urged India and Pakistan to show the “utmost restraint” in their escalating confrontation. “We expect both countries to now exercise utmost restraint and avoid any further escalation of the situation,” Mogherini said in a statement. Opp upset over ‘politicisation’ of troops’ sacrifices SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 27 FEBRUARY Twenty-one opposition parties Wednesday expressed anguish over what they alleged was “blatant politicisation” of the sacrifices of armed forces and urged the government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity and integrity. After a meeting, which lasted over three hours, in the Parliament Library, the leaders of these parties issued a joint statement, expressing concern over the prevailing security situation in the country. “Anguished over blatant politicisation of sacrifices of armed forces by ruling party. Urge government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity, integrity. “National security must transcend narrow political consideration,” the joint statement said. The parties also condemned the “dastardly” Pulwama terror attack by “Pakistan-sponsored” terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14. The leaders paid homage to the soldiers killed in the attack and expressed solidarity with the Armed Forces. The statement also said that the prime minister has “regrettably” not convened an all-party meeting as per established practice. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel; Sharad Pawar (NCP); Chandrababu Naidu (TDP); Mamata Banerjee (TMC); Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Sharad Yadav, Mamata Banerjee and other leaders SNS during an Opposition meeting at Parliament House complex, in the Capital on Wednesday. Sharad Yadav (LJD); T Shiva (DMK); Sitaram Yechury (CPIM);Satish Chandra Misra (BSP); Manoj Jha(RJD); Sanjay Singh (AAP); Sudhakar Reddy (CPI); Danish Ali ( JD-S); Shibu Soren(JMM); Upendra Kushwaha (RLSP); Ashok Kumar Singh (JVM); Jitin Ram Manjhi (HAM); Kodandaram (TJS) among others participated in the meeting. In the joint state- ment, the parties lauded the Indian Air Force's strike on the terrorist camp on February 26 but also expressed concern on the emerging security situation. “Post the statement from the MEA regarding targeting of our military installations and loss of one fighter aircraft, the leaders condemned the Pakistani misadventure and expressed their deep concern for the safety of our missing pilot,” Rahul Gandhi said while reading out the statement. The Samajwadi Party did not attend the meeting. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also skipped the meeting. In a tweet, he said he had “requested the opposition to postpone the meeting in light of the developments, especially after the news of our pilot being in Pakistani custody but they felt otherwise. I chose not to attend as a result”. The Opposition on Tuesday had decided to drop the formulation of the common minimum programme as the agenda for their meeting on Wednesday in view of the prevailing security situation in the country. Senior leaders in the opposition confirmed that in a discussion with the Congress, the CPI(M) and the CPI said that they will only be part of the meeting if the common minimum programme is off the table. With the change in agenda, Left parties joined the meeting. The ruling BJP rejected the joint statement of 21 opposition parties that it was politicising the sacrifices of armed forces, saying such remarks are being used by the Pakistani media to show that Indian parties are not united in the fight against terror. Addressing a press conference, Union minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said the allegation levelled by the opposition is “baseless”. pilots were captured. In his address, Khan said all wars have been started on miscalculations on the time and the human cost of war. This was the same with the World War I, with the World War II and the war on terror, he added. He said no one knows where the wars lead to. Khan said that better sense must prevail and the two sides should act with wisdom. “I ask India: with the weapons (nuclear) you have and the weapons (nuclear) we have, can we really afford a miscalculation? If this (situation) escalates, it will no longer be in my control or in (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi's,” Khan said. “Let's sit together and settle this with talks,” he added. Khan said that when India stuck Tuesday morning, he spoke with the army chief and Pakistan did not respond in haste. Operations at 9 airports have resumed as of now: DGCA NEW DELHI, 27 FEBRUARY Aviation watchdog DGCA Wednesday said operations at the nine airports, which were shut earlier in the day, have resumed “as of now”. A spokesperson of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said, “As of now, ops to these airports resumed (sic).” Earlier onWednesday, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM), saying flight operations at the airports in Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali and Pithoragarh will remain shut from February 27 to May 27. The AAI owns and manages more than 100 airports, including those shut temporarily Wednesday, in the country. The move to suspend operations the airports had come amid escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan after the IAF carried out strikes on terror bases in Pakistan. Various airlines such as Air India, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore AirlinesWednesday announced they were rerouting their flights as Pakistan closed its airspace in the wake of escalating tensions with India. ”Inbound and Outbound flights from USA and Europe for Delhi are being re-routed through Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Flights landing into India from USA and Europe are being re-routed via Dubai and Sharjah and will land into India with a delay,” Air India tweetedWednesday evening. The national carrier, however, added “no flights are cancelled and there will only be an increase in the AGENCIES flying time”.
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