Guwahati, March 1, 2019
Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinadan Varthaman is on Indian soil and is making his way to the Integrated Check Post at the Attari border. He will walk back to India through Wagah border near Punjab’s Amritsar on March 1st, 2019.
Pakistan captured him after his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down in action with Pakistan Air Force jets near the LoC on February 27th, 2019. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan declared on February 28th, 2019 that the pilot will be released as a “gesture of peace”.
Welcome home #AbhinandanVarthaman Welcome home sweet home
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 1, 2019
Abhinandan will go through the formalities including a customs check and a medical check-up. He will then be taken to the Amritsar airport, which is 20 kilometres from the Attari border. He will then be flown to Delhi where he will re-unite with his family.
Welcome back Wing Commander Abhinandan. I salute your bravery and the courage of your family.
India is proud of you
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 1, 2019
On his return journey, the second-generation IAF pilot is likely to be accompanied by India’s air attache to Pakistan Group Captain JD Kurian, as per media reports.
It may be mentioned that Pakistan Army released two videos of the captured IAF pilot – one showing him blindfolded and bloodied and another while having tea. In both videos, he is seen answering questions in a composed and stoic manner.
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) March 1, 2019
After being captured, Abhinandan didn’t panic or lose his mind. Instead, he fought his captors, fired into the air and swallowed important documents, before he was outnumbered and captured, as Pakistani media reported.
Standing with a cup of tea in his hand and appearing to be absolutely calm, the pilot is seen responding to questions in the video. To most queries, he says he is sorry as he is not supposed to divulge any details. “I hope you like the tea,” someone is heard asking. “It is fantastic,” he answers.
Returning #WingCommanderAbhinandan is a welcome move, however, it is the first of many steps that #Pakistan must take to reinforce their commitment to peace. We need an affirmative & verifiable action by Pakistan against terrorism.
— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) March 1, 2019
On March 1st, 2019 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Kanyakumari, said, “It makes every Indian proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinandan hails from Tamil Nadu.”
Very happy to see the safe return of IAF wing commander Abhinandan. AP salutes the brave and spirited patriot.
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) March 1, 2019