indica News Bureau-
Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured by Pakistanis on February 27 after his MiG-21 crashed in Pakistani territory, has returned to India on March 1.
Dressed in a blue coat, grey trousers and white shirt, he was received by senior Border Security Force officers at 9:21 p.m. at the Zero Line that marks the India-Pakistan land border.
India’s President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted, “Welcome home Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman! India is proud of your courage and sense of duty, and above all your dignity. Wishing you and our entire Air Force every success in the future.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, and several Union ministers including Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman soon after he returned via Wagha border to India.
“Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. Vande Mataram!” tweeted Modi.
“I am happy to be back home.” Abhinandan said in his first reaction after stepping into India, according to Amritsar Deputy Commissioner, Shivdular Singh Dhillon, who received the IAF pilot along with senior IAF and Border Security Force (BSF) officers.
According to IANS, Abhinandan was accompanied from the Pakistan side by Group Captain J.D. Kurian. He was surrounded by armed troopers of the Pakistan Rangers up to the border gate. When Abhinandan arrived India, one BSF officer shook his hand and another put his arm around the pilot to escort him back into India.
The Wing Commander was in Pakistani captivity for over 60 hours before he walked back home through the Zero Line at the Wagah-Attari joint check-post and was received by senior IAF and security officers.
Pakistani authorities continuously delayed his actual return to India through on Friday for unexplained reasons. He was finally whisked from the Attari joint check post (JCP) complex under tight security cover.
Air Vice Marshall R.G.K. Kapoor told the media that the Wing Commander was “handed to us as per the standard operating procedure of the Indian Air Force.”
“He will now be taken for a detailed medical check-up. The check-up is mandated particularly because the officer has had to eject from an aeroplane which would have put his entire body under great stress,” Kapoor said.
“IAF is happy to have Abhinandan back,” the Air Vice Marshal said.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Dhillon said that the “happiness in [Abhinandan’s] eyes said it all” upon his return. Dhillon stated that there was no particular reason for the delay of the IAF pilot’s return.
Earlier, Abhinandan was formally handed over to officials of the Indian High Commission at Wagah (in Pakistan) led by Group Captain J.D. Kurian.
He was captured in Pakistan on Wednesday, Feb 27 after his MIG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down during an aerial dogfight near the Line of Control (LoC).
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday that the captured pilot will be freed as a “goodwill gesture” after New Delhi demanded his unconditional, immediate, and unharmed release.