23:54 GMT +319 June 2019
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    Indian people hold placards and photographs of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, as they celebrate the announcement of his soon release, in Amritsar on February 28, 2019.

    Released Indian Pilot Says He Suffered 'Mental Harassment' in Pakistan – Report

    © AFP 2019 / NARINDER NANU
    Asia & Pacific
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    Conflict Between India, Pakistan Escalates Over Exchange of Airstrikes in Kashmir (106)

    The Indian pilot was released by Pakistani authorities as "a peace gesture" several days after he was captured amid heightened tensions between the two states. Prior to his release, Pakistan published a video where the pilot praised the professionalism of the Pakistani military. It was perceived in India as heavily "edited" and "scripted".

    Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was recently released from Pakistani custody after his MiG-21 was downed over Pakistan, told the Indian Air Force that although he had not been subjected to physical violence during his captivity, he had still suffered "a lot of mental harassment", the news agency ANI reported, citing an anonymous source. Varthaman spent around 58 hours in custody prior to his release on 1 March, when he was returned to his homeland.

    Ahead of the pilot's return, Pakistan released a video where Varthaman appeared to praise the Pakistani military's professionalism. The video provoked outrage among some social media users and journalists in India, who claimed that the video was "scripted" and heavily edited, thereby alleging that Islamabad was trying to hide what the pilot really intended to say.

    Varthaman's MiG-21 was downed as a result of a dogfight with Pakistani Air Force jets along with another Indian aircraft. The Indian Air Force reported that a Pakistani F-16 was also downed, but Islamabad denies losing a plane.

    READ MORE: Allegedly Downed PAF F-16 Pilot Mistaken as Indian, Lynched in Pakistan — Report

    The downing of the Indian planes follows reports of an air raid against the positions of the Pakistani-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The latter carried out an attack on a convoy with Indian security forces on 14 February 2019, which resulted in the deaths of 40 paramilitary servicemen.

    Conflict Between India, Pakistan Escalates Over Exchange of Airstrikes in Kashmir (106)


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    harassment, torture, Abhinandan Varthaman, India, Pakistan
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