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Pakistan brings captured Indian pilot to border

2 years 7 months 2 weeks ago Friday, March 01 2019 Mar 1, 2019 March 01, 2019 5:40 AM March 01, 2019 in News
Source: Associated Press
Photo: ABC

ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistani officials have brought the Indian pilot captured from downed plane to border crossing with India for handover.

The pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was taken in a convoy that set out from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore to the border crossing at Wagah on Friday, escorted by military vehicles with soldiers, their weapons drawn.

On the Indian side of the border, turbaned Indian policemen lined the road as a group of cheering Indian residents from the area waved India's national flag and held up a huge garland of flowers to welcome him back.

Islamabad has said the handover is a gesture of peace that could defuse tensions and avoid another war between India and Pakistan.

India has banned the largest political and religious group in Indian-held Kashmir in an ongoing crackdown against rebels seeking the end of Indian rule in the disputed region.

The ban comes against the backdrop of the most serious confrontation between India and Pakistan in two decades.

India also imposed a security lockdown in several parts of the region on Friday, including in downtown areas of the main city of Srinagar, in anticipation of protests and clashes against Indian rule.

India's home ministry issued a notification against Jama'at-e-Islami on Thursday night, accusing the group as "unlawful association" and supporting militancy in the region.

Police have already arrested at least 400 leaders and activists, mainly from the Jama'at-e-Islami, which seeks self-determination for the Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

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