Anger erupted in India on Saturday after a video surfaced showing an Indian pilot of a downed airplane hailing the professionalism of the Pakistani military and slamming the Indian media for propelling “war hysteria”, as tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi took a new turn, AFP reported.
Days after the video was unearthed, The Times of India cited the Indian Air Force as saying that the video of Abhinandan praising the Pakistani military for treating him well was heavily edited.
The footage featured many jump cuts that allegedly were made to tailor the captive’s statement to Pakistan’s agenda, the media claimed.
Indian journalists and social media users appeared to share the same stance:
Gross to see a propoganda video which is heavily edited and has multiple cuts has been made by Pakistan agencies before releasing #WingCommandarAbhinandan and then released to Pakistan media. Clearly forced script and then edited further. Just undid the value of the gesture.— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) 1 марта 2019 г.
#DeclarePakTerroristState very stupid this to do in the end is to release a forced video of the pilot of 1:20 min with 40 cuts forced to speak lies.Spreading propaganda.— Zafar Supari (@Zafar_Supari007) 1 марта 2019 г.
Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, took to Twitter to comment on the incident, and the video, which he also believes, was filmed under duress:
Sadly the image you paint for us is marred terribly by the video he’s forced to record just before you sent him back. That high moral ground you had bequeathed to yourselves slipped at the end. https://t.co/tYsI2IXCql— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) 1 марта 2019 г.
In the meantime, Pakistani media outlets have praised the government for liberating the pilot, with lawyer Shahzaib Khan penning in The Express Tribune that Pakistanis “have a reason to boast… the Prime Minister has done Pakistan proud by not engaging in chest thumping or war-mongering for political gain”.
Pakistani netizens blasted reports alleging that the footage could be scripted:
Hindus says that the captured pilot was forced to make video statement. They also call him hero.— Shahi (@shahi_views) 1 марта 2019 г.
Can a hero be forced to make statement? Hero prefers death to humiliation.
Your pilot HIMSELF requested to have a video msg recorded for the world just before we were going to hand him over. He knew, once in India he won’t be allowed to speak. No one forced him.— Watching #LOC 🇵🇰 (@EyeOnPak) 1 марта 2019 г.
Indian media is so cheap frst they spoke bad things abt pak thn beg fr pilot n now when he returned safe they said it’s edited n forced video really u r shameless hypocrites— Muhammad Ali (@mohdali9086) 1 марта 2019 г.
Abhinandan was captured after his MiG fighter jet was shot down on Wednesday while he was conducting a mission over the disputed region of Kashmir. He managed to eject himself from the plane safely, but landed in the Pakistani-controlled part of Jammu and Kashmir, where he was eventually captured.
Shortly after his landing, a video emerged allegedly showing Pakistani troops protecting him from a furious mob, purportedly demanding that the pilot be handed over to them.
Minutes before his release, Abhinandan was recorded saying: “The army personnel saved me from the mob. The Pakistani Army is very professional and I am impressed by it”. He also voiced “regret over the role of Indian media for creating war hysteria”.
A video of a statement made by Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman while in Pak custody pic.twitter.com/toMWnSk1Gu— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) 1 марта 2019 г.
Hours after Abhinandan was handed over to India, two Pakistani civilians and three Indians were killed in cross-border shelling along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district.
Over the last week, there have been at least 60 ceasefire violations in the forward areas of Poonch, Rajourim Jammu and Baramulla districts, NDTV cited police sources as saying.
In response, India’s Air Force carried out an assault on an alleged terrorist base in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, reportedly destroying a number of facilities on 26 February.
The following day, Islamabad announced it had intercepted two Indian warplanes over the disputed Kashmir border, and captured Abhinandan. The Indian Air Force, in turn, stated that one of its MiG-21 Bison jets had shot down a Pakistani F-16 during the dogfight, while Islamabad maintained it never deployed an F-16, neither did it sustain any losses.