Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s homecoming was celebrated across the nation with politicians, celebrities and others saluting his grace and courage in the most dangerous circumstances
Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to India on Friday night after two days of captivity in Pakistan, a move widely seen as a de-escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan.
Abhinandan, dressed in a suit, walked across the Zero Line at the Attari-Wagah border at 9.20 pm, about four hours later he was reportedly scheduled to return. He was accompanied by Group Captain J T Kurien, Air Advisor in the Indian High Commission, and Fareeha Bugti, Director (India) in the Pakistan Foreign Office.
“It is good to be back in my country,” was the first reaction of IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as he set his foot back on Indian soil.
After receiving the Pilot, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said, Wing Commander Abhinandan has been handed over. As per standard procedure, he will be taken for a detailed medical check-up as he had to eject from a plane.
The repatriation triggered celebrations across the country where people had waited hours, glued to TV sets to watch the return home.
Abhinandan Varthaman lands in Delhi, to undergo debriefing today
Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman has landed in Delhi. A group of people gave a rousing welcome to him at Palam airport. He would be now taken to a medical facility for examination as per procedure. He will later undergo debriefing which will include his physiological as well as a physical check-up in the presence of officials from the military and Intelligence agencies.
Recording of video before release led to IAF Pilot’s delay
Abhinandan was handed over to Indian officials at the Wagah border on Friday. He walked across the Zero Line at 9.20 pm, about four hours later that he was reportedly scheduled to return. The IAF pilot’s return was delayed as he was asked to record a statement on camera by Pakistani authorities before he was allowed to cross the border. It was not clear whether he was made to record the video under duress. The video also had several jump cuts indicating that it had been edited heavily. In the video, the Pilot said that he was “saved” by the Pakistani Army when the locals tried to attack him. “People chased me, their emotions were running high.
Varthaman was in Pakistan Army’s custody since Wednesday after his MiG-21 Bison was hit by ground air defense weapons when he was in the process of thwarting the PAF’s intrusion in the Indian airspace.
The Pakistani announcement on Varthaman’s release came after it sought an assurance — the US-led global efforts to try and defuse the crisis — that India would not retaliate for targeting of its military installations by the Pakistan Air Force and the downing of Varthaman’s MiG-21 Bison.
India has dug up contract details between the united states and Pakistan on the AMRAAM missile fired from an F-16 aircraft and is learned to have shared the information with American interlocutors to bolster its case about the misuse of the fighter aircraft against India.
A day after Pakistan claimed it never used American F-16s in its attempted air strike on military installations in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, India on Thursday presented parts of a fired AMRAAM missile, which can only be fired from an F-16 aircraft.
with inputs from news agencies.