Government asks YouTube to remove clips of captured IAF pilot
With photos and videos of captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman doing the rounds on social media, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had asked Google-owned video-streaming platform YouTube to remove 11 video links pertaining to Varthaman. The request came based on a directive by the Home Ministry, and reportedly, the links have been removed. Here are the details.
What Google had to say
Commenting on the removal, a Google spokesperson told media that the company complies with "valid legal requests from authorities wherever possible, consistent with our longstanding policy and act quickly to remove such material".
Islamabad had released images and videos of Varthaman
Follwing Varthaman's capture by Pakistani forces on Wednesday, Islamabad had released images and videos of the injured pilot. One particular video had shown Varthaman drinking tea in Pakistan custody, and saying that he was being treated well by his captors. In the video, he also said that he would not change his statement even when out of captivity.
The videos were perceived as a PR effort by Pakistan
The videos, particularly the one where he is drinking tea, has largely been perceived in India as a PR effort by Pakistan to tell the world that it is not mistreating the captured and injured pilot. While details have not been shared, it's possible that this is the reason why the Home Ministry directed YouTube to take down 11 clips on Varthaman's capture.
Backstory: Varthaman's plane had been downed during an aerial battle
After the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out air strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp in Balakot on February 26, Pakistan had retaliated by launching an air offensive aimed at taking out Indian military installations. However, the three Pakistani aircraft that were tasked with carrying out the attack were intercepted by the IAF. In the battle that ensued, Varthaman's plane was shot down.
Varthaman showed unimaginable valor before he was finally captured
Unfortunately for the pilot, his plane crashed on the Pakistan side of the border. However, Varthaman managed to eject in time to save himself, and showed unparalleled valor in the face of terrifying odds. As reported by Pakistani publication Dawn, the pilot, with a broken back, fought his captors, and destroyed or swallowed important documents, before he was outnumbered and finally captured.
Meanwhile, Pakistan PM Imran Khan has announced Varthaman's release
Following Varthaman's capture, India had demanded that he be released immediately. While Pakistan had initially refused, saying that they would hold the pilot as per the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Thursday, announced that Varthaman would be released on Friday. Khan added that Varthaman's release would be Pakistan's gesture of peace towards India.