FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 01 MARCH 2019 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR WEATHER Mainly clear sky with cold day conditions. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 23 and 07 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min. 49% Max: 22.0°C (-4) SUN RISES 06:46 hrs MOON RISES 03:59 hrs Min: 6.8°C (-6) SUN SETS 18:21 hrs MOON SETS 13:51 hrs SNS & PTI P THUMBNAILS The US-North Korea nuclear summit in Hanoi ended abruptly without a deal on Thursday, with US President Donald Trump saying he had decided to 'walk' in the face of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's demands to drop sancP12 tions. Jet Airways chief may ‘quit’: Jet Airways' chairman Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down as the lenders gear up to acquire majority stake in the airline under a bailout plan, a source said. When contacted, Jet Airways VP for corporate affairs and PR Ragini Chopra, said she is “not aware” of the developments. Govt imposes ban on Jamat-e-Islami J&K: The eI Centre Thursday banned the Jamat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five years under antiterror law on grounds that it was “in close touch” with militant outfits and is expected to “escalate secessionist movement” in the state. A notification in this regard was issued by the home ministry. SIDELIGHTS Wing Commander Varthaman to be released as peace gesture , says Pak PM; captured pilot safe and sound, says Pak foreign office ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI, 28 FEB Max.97% TEMPERATURE Pak to release IAF pilot today: Imran akistan will set free captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday as a peace gesture, its Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday, a move that came just hours after his foreign minister said the Pakistani leader is ready for telephone talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions. The surprise announcement also came on the heels of India sending a strong message to Pakistan rejecting the possibility of any deal for securing the release of the pilot and demanding his unconditional and immediate repatriation. Indian government sources also emphatically said the pilot cannot be a bargaining chip. “In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow (Friday), and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody,” Khan said. The announcement during a joint session of Parliament was greeted by thumping of desks by lawmakers. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who had earlier in the day said Pakistan is willing to consider returning the pilot if it leads to “de-escalation” of ten- NEW DELHI, 28 FEBRUARY A woman was killed and a jawan injured as the Pakistani army shelled civilian areas and forward posts in J&K's Poonch and Rajouri districts. Stranded air travellers worldwide heaved a sigh of relief as Pakistan announced that its airspace will be fully reopened by Friday. Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. “I think hopefully that (tensions) could be coming to an end, it has been going on for a long time,” said Trump amid efforts by backchannel interlocutors considered close to the two countries to defuse IndoPak tensions that spiked after the Pulwama suicide attack by a JeM bomber on February 14 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. Qureshi said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir will visit Islamabad onThursday “carrying an important message” from the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. In New Delhi, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to India called on Prime Minister Modi. Pakistani Air Force onWednesday carried out a retaliatory strike across the Line of Control(LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and attempted to target military installations, a day after IAF struck inside Pakistan, destroying the biggest terrorist training camp of the Jaish- SEE ALSO INSIDE PAGES Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman raised patriotic slogans, fired in the air and stuffed his mouth with documents when he landed on Pakistani soil after ejecting from his fighter jet, says the headman of a village on the other side of the border. The Indian Air Force pilot, who has been the centre of global attention since his capture on Wednesday, will be released on Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced in Parliament. Recounting the dramatic events leading to his capture, Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry, the chief of Horran vil- lage in Pakistan, told the BBC that he ran to the spot along with other villagers when he saw the MiG 21 crashing to the ground. Varthaman's first question on landing was whether he was in India, Chaudhry said, disclosing that the pilot was pelted with stones and also shot in the leg while fleeing. “My objective was to capture the pilot alive. I had seen the Indian flag on his parachute and knew he was Indian,” Chaudhry was quoted as saying. According to the 58year-old eyewitness, Varthaman asked some of the villagers if he was in India, and the villagers tricked him with an affirmative response, leading the pilot to raise patriotic slogans about India. However, he SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 28 FEBRUARY The Indian Air Force on Thursday said it is very happy that captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is returning home but dismissed suggestions it was a goodwill gesture, insisting it was in line with the Geneva Conventions. “We are very happy Abhinandan will be freed tomorrow and look forward to his return,” Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, told a news conference.Varthaman's MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighters during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning, he 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”. Asked if the IAF sees it as a goodwill move, Kapoor 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 secu- was in for a shock. “The boys around him responded by saying, 'Long live Pakistan'!” Chaudhury told the BBC, adding that Varthaman then pulled out his gun and fired in the air to intimidate them. The move led to more hostility and the villagers began pelt- ing stones at Varthaman who by then was on the run. “The boys chased him until he fell into a stream and one of my nephews who was also armed shot him in the leg,” Chaudhry said. The pilot was then asked to drop his pistol, and was pinned down by a villager to prevent him from using any other weapon that he might have had. The pilot attempted to destroy the documents in his possession by stuffing them in his mouth. However, the villagers managed to get hold of some papers which were later handed over to the army, the BBC reported. Varthaman was thrashed by the “angry” mob until the Pakistani Army came to his rescue. “Our boys were angry and continued to force their way closer to him to punch and slap him, though some of them tried to stop the aggressors. I also told them not to harm him, to leave him alone until the army officers arrived,” Chaudhry said. Modi attacks grand alliance, Opp hits back STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 28 FEBRUARY In a move aimed at galvanising the ruling BJP's boothlevel workers for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked them to reach out to all sections of people to make them aware of the work being done by his government and organise programmes to let them see the "difference" between the BJP and the Opposition including the Congress. The Opposition's proposed grand alliance, which he called "mahamilavat (highly adulterated)", will send the country to the ICU (intensive care unit), PM Modi reportedly said. He was interacting with the BJP rank and file as part of the party's "Mera booth sabse majboot" initiative, which is said to be a brainchild of BJP president Amit Shah whom the PM thanked for organising the event billed as the world's largest interaction through video conference. Responding to a query of a party worker from West Ben- India hails Pak decision, says it was in line with Geneva accord Pakistani eyewitness recounts pilot’s capture PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Railways has cancelled the operations of the Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express as Pakistan had suspended services from across the border. sionswithIndia,saidPMKhan is ready to talk to Prime Minister Modi to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions. “Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk to Narendra Modi on the telephone and ready to extend an invitation of peace. Is Modi ready?” he told Geo News.The pilot bailed out and landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir(PoK) after his MiG 21 was brought down during a fierce aerial engagementonWednesdaywithPakistan Air Force(PAF) fighters on the Line of Control(LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. As international pressure mounted on India and Pakistan to show restraint and de-escalate tensions, American President DonaldTrump said the US has some “reasonably attractive news” from the two countries. “We have been involved in trying to help them (India and Pakistan) stop and we have some reasonably decent news,” he said in his opening statement at a press conference at the end of his second summit with North e-Mohammed (JeM). Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) said Wing Commander Varthaman was safe and sound. In Delhi, top government sources said the IAF pilot cannot be a bargaining chip and that India will not strike any deal with Pakistan for his release. The sources said India has not sought any consular access toWing Commander Varthaman as his immediate release is “non-negotiable” and that the onus on de-escalating tension between the two countries lies entirely on Islamabad. “We want him back unharmed, unconditionally and immediately. He is not a bargaining chip.There is no question of any deal with Pakistan on his return,” the sources added. The father of Wing Commander Varthaman said he was proud of his son's bravery and thanked the people for their support and good wishes. In a statement, S Varthaman, a retired Air Marshal, referred to a purported video of his son after his capture, and said he spoke like a “true soldier” despite being in captivity. Mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday. gal's Jhargram, Modi said the Congress party was trying to ride piggyback on smaller parties to keep itself alive in national politics. He was all praise for his party workers for their hard work in the face of numerous odds. PM Modi called upon the BJP workers to take part in the "Vijay Sankalpa" bike rally across the country this weekend as part of the programme to reach out to the people. He also asked them to connect with the first-time voters. He asked every party worker to develop cordial relations with 10 families and connect them with the government's schemes. Modi said the party would seek the people's mandate for 2019 to fulfill their aspirations. He said every Indian was feeling the "change". He cautioned against commiting the "mistake" of giving an unclear verdict lest its again take the country back to "corruption and scams" that allegedly marked the previous Congress-led UPA regime. He said he was confident people would vote the BJP-led NDA back to power. The PM also said that India would "fight, live, work and win as one" and nobody can create hurdles in its march towards development. "The enemy is trying to destabilise us, carry out terror strikes... they want to stop our growth...we will fight, live, work and win as one," he said. The Opposition parties ~ including the Congress, SP, BSP and AAP among others ~ hit out at PM Modi and the BJP for organising such programmes and indulging in electoral politics in the midst of a continuing conflict and heightened tension between India and Pakistan. They slammed PM Modi, charging that he was trying to serve his political interest rather than the country's interest at a time when the entire country was worried over the safety of IAF pilot Abhinandan in Pakistan's custody. The Congress alleged that PM Modi was “desperate only for re-election”. It also accused the BJP leaders of "blatantly politicising" the bravery of the armed forces, referring to Karnataka BJP leader B S Yeddyu- rappa's comment that the IAF's strikes on terror camps in Pakistan have created a wave in favour of PM Modi, which will help the BJP win over 22 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in his state. The Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala charged: “Glaring case of misplaced priorities! 132 cr Indians pray for safe & immediate return of India's braveheart Wing Comm, Abhinandan but Modiji desperate only for re-election. Congress cancelled its important CWC & rally today. Pradhan Sevak (Modi) hell-bent on creating a video conference. "Surjewala also tweeted: “The armed forces are taking care of the borders and the Pradhan Sewak the booth. These are the soldiers of power.” Delhi chief minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal blasted PM Modi, saying when the entire country was worried over the safety of the captured IAF pilot, Modi was busy "strengthening his polling booths". Earlier, Kejriwal had urged the PM to defer his mega video-conference with BJP workers. rity challenge on land and sea. Tensions between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-eMohammed'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. Kapoor 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 on the scepticism in some quarters about whether IAF fighters had hit the intended targets. Kapoor said there is credible information and evidence that“we hit the intended targets” and it was premature to assess the casualties and damage.The IAF showed parts of Amraam missiles as proof that Pakistan used F16 aircraft to attack Indian military establishments on Wednesday. Pakistan lied that no F-16 was used but there was enough evidence, Kapoor said. Stating that Pakistan aircraft targeted military installations, he added that PAF bombs were unable to damage any of India's defence installations. Addressing the gathering, Indian Army's Major General S S Mahal said escalation of tensions had been done by Pakistan but India was prepared for any contingency if the enemy provoked it. Mechanised forces were put on standby and troops were ready to deal with any security challenge, he said. Rear Admiral of the Indian Navy Dalbir Singh Gujral said the force was in a high state of readiness to deal with any Pakistan maritime misadventure. Art 370 amendment cleared for SC, ST quota PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 28 FEBRUARY The government on Thursday gave its nod to the promulgation of an ordinance for giving reservation benefits to SCs and STs in Jammu and Kashmir by amending a clause of the contentious Article 370, which gives special status to the state. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. “It will serve the purpose of application of relevant provisions of the Constitution of India, as amended through the Constitution (Seventy Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 and Constitution (One Hundred and third Amendment) Act, 2019 for Jammu and Kashmir, by issuing the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019 by the President under clause (1) of Article 370,” he said. Aadhaar: The Cabinet approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as identity proof for opening bank account and procuring mobile phone connection. ‘Armed action against Pak okay if aim is to protect sovereignty’ STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA 28 FEBRUARY Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said she supported armed action against Pakistan if the intent was to preserve the country’s sovereignty and integrity, but she was against war if it was for political, electoral gain. She also demanded proof to buttress the claim made by the Centre that over 300 terrorists, senior commanders and trainers had been eliminated in the airstrike by the Indian Air force on the Jaish-eMohammad (JeM) training camp at Balakot in Pakistan on 26 February. "We are with our armed forces. If war is necessary in the interest of the country, then we will support it. But we don't want a war to be fought for politics or for the electoral gain of the party in power. We want peace," Miss The Bengal CM also demanded proof to buttress the claim made by the Centre that over 300 terrorists had been eliminated in the IAF airstrike Banerjee said at the state secretariat this evening. Questioning the success of the air strike, she said : "We want to know how many persons were actually killed at the Balakot training camp ? Where was the bomb dropped or whether the bomb was actually dropped ? Where are the facts ? What had actually happened during the incident ? The people have the right to know the truth. Why are the countrymen being misled ?" Making it clear that she was against “politicising the sacrifices of our armed forces”, Miss Banerjee said her support was for the armed forces. "The Centre should allow the Air Force to speak out the facts in connection with the airstrike. We don't want any politics being made over the blood of our soldiers. Our soldiers are our pride". Earlier during the day, Miss Banerjee had tweeted: "Along with his family members and all our countrymen, we are anxiously waiting for the safe return of our pilot #Abhinandhan". Miss Banerjee iterated there had been many attacks during the past.
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