Three killed as India and Pakistan resume shelling in Kashmir

Pakistan hands over captured Indian pilot

Pakistan brings captured Indian pilot to border crossing for handover in front of large crowd

People turned out in large numbers early Friday morning at the Wagah-Attari border crossing, about 300 miles from New Delhi, where Pakistan handed the pilot over to India.

The handover took several hours, delayed because of procedures including a quick check of his medical condition before he was turned over to Indian officials.

But India made it clear that the latest escalation has changed its strategy and that going forward, it will strike, including inside Pakistan, if they receive intelligence of an attack in the planning.

Abhinandan was arrested by Pakistani soldiers after his aircraft crash landed in Pakistan Administered Kashmir while reportedly countering an alleged air raid by Pakistani Air Force jets on Indian installations.

Dressed in a blue suit, Wing Commander Abhinandan was officially received by a delegation of officials of the Indian Air Force at the Wagah border amid high security. Many youth among the crowd said Pakistan should stop aiding and abetting terror or else be prepared to face consequences. Pakistan's military spokesman Asif Ghafoor, in turn, denied that the air force had lost a jet.

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India also shot down a Pakistani fighter plane on Wednesday, Raveesh Kumar, spokesman at India's Ministry of External Affairs said.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman gave a brilliant smile while stepping on the Indian soil, which was a heart-touching moment for all of us, said Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon on Friday night.

Addressing a joint press conference along with the Indian Army and the Indian Navy on Thursday, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor had said, "We are happy that our pilot, who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in custody of Pakistan, is being released". However, the eastern side airports - Lahore, Multan, Sialkot, Faisalabab and Bahawalpur - will remain closed till March 4. The country had closed its airspace on Wednesday following the escalation, causing disruptions to global air traffic.

An air fight between the planes of the two types occurred on the Indian-Pakistani border on February 28. The ministers quoted the premier as having said the core point of tension between Pakistan and India was Kashmir. More than 200 people had fled to a military organized camp about 20 kilometres (16 miles) away from the border. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. "So today (Friday), this afternoon, he will be released at Wagah", Qureshi said, raising expectations in India of an early handover. In India, the Election Commission said that national elections due in April-May would be held on schedule.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's civil aviation authority partially reopened the country's airspace on Friday, allowing travel to four major cities, another sign that tensions with India were de-escalating.

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