IAF Hero returns
Captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India at 920 pm on Friday, after nearly 60 hours in Pakistans captiviyt The pilot was smiling and had a black eye as he crossed into India through the AttariWagah border, hours later than expectedAbhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan Army on Wednesday after a dogfight with enemy aircraft His first words were it is good to be back i
Attari-Wagah Border: Captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India at 9.20 pm on Friday, after nearly 60 hours in Pakistan's captivity. The pilot was smiling and had a black eye as he crossed into India through the Attari-Wagah border, hours later than expected.Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan Army on Wednesday after a dogfight with enemy aircraft. His first words were "it is good to be back in my country," an official told reporters.
"He will be taken for a detailed medical checkup. The officer has had to eject from a plane which would have put his body under immense strain," said Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, reading out a short statement and refusing to take questions.As Abhinandan Varthaman's homecoming was delayed, "documentation" was cited as the hold-up. But sources said the handover was delayed as he was forced to record a statement on camera by Pakistani authorities before he was allowed to cross the border.
The pilot, who inspired many hashtags on social media, finally appeared on the Pakistani side of the Attari-Wagah crossing around 9.15 pm. He was whisked away by Indian officials.Abhinandan Varthaman spent almost three days in Pakistani captivity. By the time he crossed over, a crowd that had waited for hours holding flags, dancing and cheering, had thinned.
To restrict the crowds, an elaborate flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah crossing between Indian and Pakistani soldiers, which draws thousands of spectators on both sides, had been cancelled. The government wanted to avoid frenzy around the pilot, for many a symbol of hope and the easing of tension between India and Pakistan after their biggest standoff in years. New Delhi had asked for permission to send a special IAF flight to bring back the captured IAF pilot from Islamabad, say sources, but Pakistan rejected the request.
Images of the pilot's capture and questioning, circulated from Pakistani accounts, left millions of Indians stricken and worried. The 38-year-old was blind-folded, his eyes bleeding over his handlebar moustache and his hands tied behind his back. A video showed him dragged from a pond, surrounded by locals.The alarming videos were taken off as Pakistan was accused of violating the Geneva Convention.
A video later showed Abhinandan Varthaman sipping tea, his eyes swollen. He calmly answered questions, refusing to speak on his mission while praising his treatment by the Pakistan Army.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's announcement that he would be released helped lower the temperature after rapid escalation this week. The announcement marked a dramatic shift in mood after the two countries engaged in an aerial clash for the first time in nearly 50 years on Wednesday.
World leaders had urged both countries to step back as hostilities peaked over the past few days as India sent fighter planes to strike a terror training camp in Pakistan and Islamabad tried to target Indian military installations in response.The confrontation erupted in the days following the February 14 Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, in which over 40 soldiers were killed. India's air strikes on Tuesday targeted a huge Jaish training facility in Pakistan's Balakot, around 80 km from the Line of Control.