Opposition parties on Wednesday said they were anguished over the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s “blatant politicisation” of the sacrifices made by Armed Forces by leaders. Leaders of 21 political parties who attended a meeting at the Parliament on Wednesday issued a joint statement condemning the Pulwama suicide attack and lauding the Indian air strikes against a terror camp across the border on Tuesday.
“National security must transcend narrow political considerations,” the statement said. “The leaders observed that the Prime Minister has, regrettably, not convened an-all party meeting as per the established practice in our democracy.”
They also expressed concern over the safety of a missing Indian Air Force pilot and the security situation in the country after India and Pakistan claimed to have shot down each other’s fighter jets earlier on Wednesday.
“The leaders expressed concern on the emerging security situation,” the statement said, according to NDTV. “Post the statement from the MEA regarding the 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.”
The Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday afternoon said India had lost a MiG 21 jet and a pilot was “missing in action” after Islamabad “targeted military installations on India’s side”. Pakistan claimed the pilot was in their custody, but India said it was “ascertaining the facts”.
The Pakistani government had tweeted a video clip that purportedly showed the pilot, but later deleted the tweet. Scroll.in has not independently verified the authenticity of the video. In the video, copies of which are still available on social media, the person, with a bloody face, identifies himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan.
The Congress urged the government to ensure that the pilot, who Pakistan claims is in its custody, is brought home safely. “We’re saddened by the news that one of our Indian Air Force pilots is missing in action, we urge the govt [government] to bring him back safely,” the party said.
Opposition stands by armed forces
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted in support of the missing pilot and the armed forces. “I’m sorry to hear that one of our brave IAF pilots is missing,” he tweeted. “I hope he will return home soon, unharmed. We stand by our armed forces in these difficult times.”
The Congress also offered condolences to the families of two people, reportedly pilots, who died after a military aircraft crashed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam early on Wednesday. “We join the families in their mourning & salute their courage, patriotism & dedication to protect our country,” it said.
The party advised restraint while “reacting and sharing” news. “With the growing hysteria it is easy to succumb to hate propaganda [and] fake news,” the party said.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted in support of the missing pilot. “I am praying for the safe return of our brave pilot,” he said. “May God protect you and give you courage and strength. The nation stands with you.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said Pakistan must respect its obligations to the Indian pilot under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, under which every party is required to treat prisoners humanely. “Our prayers are with the brave IAF pilot & his family in this very difficult time,” he tweeted.