Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the country will release Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman from its custody. However, Khan warned India not to mistake his effort at de-escalation of tensions for weakness.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed there was “reasonably attractive news” coming from India and Pakistan, and hinted that the tension between the two countries will soon deescalate.
The United States, the United Kingdom and France moved a new proposal at the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Masood Azhar, chief of Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad. The group had claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack.
Here are the day’s top stories:
The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions by home buyers seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in Amrapali Group projects in Uttar Pradesh. In December, the court had ordered the confiscation and sale of the group’s assets after advocate ML Lahoty, appearing for the petitioners, alleged that the company had diverted around Rs 3,000 crore of home-buyers’ money for other purposes.
The court rejected the petition after first reserving its order on Wednesday. Ramesh had said that the amendments were enacted as Money Bills instead of Ordinary Bills. A Money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cannot amend or reject it.
“[On] basis [of] the inputs received from security agencies, Mumbai Metro One has imposed red alert on all 12 stations with immediate effect. We seek cooperation and support from our esteemed commuters,” it tweeted. The Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited operates the 12-km elevated corridor from Versova to Ghatkopar.
The advisory said that over the last few days, there had been more than 10 reports of police, bureaucrats and ordinary civilians receiving such calls. Investigations had reportedly revealed that such calls were routed from outside the country, but “specialised software” had been used to display the caller ID with a +91 code.
Yeddyurappa had on Wednesday said India’s air strikes against a terror camp in Pakistan will help his party win more than 22 of the 28 seats in Karnataka in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He said the wind was “increasingly blowing in favour of the BJP” and the air strikes have led to a “pro-Modi wave” in the country. On Thursday, however, he said his comments had been reported out of context.
Khan made the announcement before addressing a joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament to discuss the increasing tension between India and Pakistan since the Pulwama attack, where 40 CRPF personnel died.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in an “urgent” call with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday night, expressed “deep concern” over the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. “Late at night on February 27, 2019, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made an urgent call to State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to update him on the situation between Pakistan and India,” the ministry said.
The reports came hours after Pakistani forces allegedly violated the ceasefire in Poonch district on Thursday morning. Both countries exchanged heavy fire, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand told reporters in Jammu.
News agency ANI also quoted officials who accused Islamabad of violating the Geneva Convention by ill-treating an Indian Air Force pilot who is in Pakistan’s custody.
While one faction of the AIADMK is led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, the other faction is headed by Dhinakaran. His faction is called the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.
India on Thursday said it would not seek consular access to an Indian Air Force pilot in Pakistani custody, saying there will be “no deal” with the neighbouring country. The government said that it expected Pakistan to immediately return Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, whose jet was shot down on Wednesday.
Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh criticised party colleague and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Thursday for claiming that the Indian air strikes on a terror camp in Pakistan have led to a “pro-Modi” wave in the country ahead of the elections. Yeddyurappa, who is the BJP’s Karnataka unit chief, had said on Wednesday that the air strikes will help the BJP win over 22 of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming elections.
Pakistan on Thursday announced that the operation of the Samjhauta Express will be suspended temporarily till the security situation between India and Pakistan improves. “The operation of Samjhuta Express has been suspended today, in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Referring to the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan, United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said there was “reasonably attractive news” coming from the two countries and that peace is “probably going to be happening”. Trump was addressing reporters on Thursday after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam ended.
The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the implementation of its earlier order evicting more than 10 lakh families of Adivasis and other forest-dwellers from forest lands across 16 states. The Centre and the Gujarat government had moved petitions in the top court seeking a stay on the court’s February 13 order.
The Congress on Thursday criticised Prime Narendra Modi for holding campaign rallies at a time when the country was hoping for the safe return of the Indian Air Force pilot who is currently in the custody of Pakistan’s armed forces. Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said Modi was only “desperate for re-election”. “Pradhan Sevak hell-bent on creating a Video Conf. [conference] record,” he wrote on Twitter.
Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who is in Pakistan’s custody, tried to swallow documents after he landed across the Line of Control on Wednesday, Dawn reported, quoting a witness. The witness told the daily that Varthaman landed in Horra’n village in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir’s Bhimber district and was chased by locals before Pakistan Army personnel took him into custody.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the country will stand united in the face of adversity in the aftermath of the cross-border air strikes and deteriorating ties with Pakistan. “India will live as one, India will work as one, India will grow as one, India will fight as one and India will win as one,” he said.
Union minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday released a passenger charter laying out the rights of air travellers in the country. The aim is to keep the system efficient and approachable, the minister said.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said he hoped that “saner counsels” prevail between the governments of India and Pakistan as the tensions between the two countries has escalated recently.
The manager of a Karachi Bakery outlet in Bengaluru claimed to have received a threat call warning him of consequences if the word “Karachi” is not removed from the outlet’s signboard.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld a single judge’s order asking Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of Congress-linked newspaper National Herald, to vacate Herald House in New Delhi. The division bench, however, did not clarify the time in which Associate Journals Limited will have to leave the premises.
India and Pakistan on Wednesday claimed that they had shot down each others’ fighter jets, a day after the Indian Air Force had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. India said Pakistan had attempted to target military installations in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday and confirmed a pilot of its Air Force was missing in action after the operation.
Pakistani forces allegedly violated the ceasefire across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on Thursday morning. Both countries exchanged heavy fire, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand told reporters in Jammu.
The United States, the United Kingdom and France on Wednesday moved a fresh proposal at the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Masood Azhar, chief of Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad. The group had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 40 security personnel were killed on February 14.
Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto, the granddaughter of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and niece of another former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on Wednesday called on the Pakistan government to release an Indian Air Force pilot in its custody. India on Wednesday said a pilot was “missing in action” and a MiG 21 fighter jet was lost after Islamabad “targeted military installations on India’s side”.
The United States’ Pentagon on Wednesday urged India and Pakistan to avoid further military action amid tensions between the two countries. The Pentagon in a statement said acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan had spoken to senior US military officials about the situation.
Indian and Pakistani students, staff and faculty at Harvard University have called for a de-escalation of tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi for the prosperity and security of the South Asian region. Further deterioration of the situation is likely to destabilise the entire region socially, economically and politically, over 140 South Asian members of Harvard University said in a letter.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday said the air strikes against a terror camp in Pakistan will help the Bharatiya Janata Party win more than 22 seats in the state in the Lok Sabha elections. India on Tuesday said it had carried out “non-military preemptive” strikes on the biggest camp of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant across the border.
Rescue teams on Wednesday retrieved the body of a second miner from the main shaft of a flooded coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district. At least 15 miners were trapped in the illegal mine on December 13, and five bodies have been discovered so far.
The Chhattisgarh government on Wednesday transferred controversial former Bastar Inspector General of Police SRP Kalluri to the post of transport commissioner. Kalluri was appointed head of the Economic Offences Wing and the Anti-Corruption Bureau in January.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation for an affidavit with details on former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s connection with the Saradha chit fund scam and the alleged contempt committed by the state police. The CBI had alleged that Kumar had connived to tamper with call data records to help senior leaders accused in the Saradha and Rose Valley ponzi scams.
The Income Tax Department on Wednesday said it conducted a “sensitive search” at several locations including properties owned by the head of prominent organisation linked with terror financing and anti-national activities. The searches came amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan.
The Centre on Wednesday criticised the Opposition parties who had said they were anguished over its “blatant politicisation” of the sacrifices made by Armed Forces. Leaders of 21 political parties who attended a meeting at 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.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on Wednesday issued a red alert for its entire network following advice from security agencies amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. The metro covers 327 km with 236 stations in Delhi and its vicinity.