Guwahati, March 2, 2019
After over 60 hours of tension, Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the gates at the Attari-Wagah border and officially entered Indian soil on March 1st, 2019 at around 9.30 pm.
Welcome home Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman! 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 #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) March 1, 2019
With his head held high and flanked by Pakistani rangers, a diplomat and an IAF attache, as he walked towards the gates of the Wagah border, dressed in a blue blazer, white shirt and beige trousers, an entire nation broke into loud cheer on seeing the live coverage of the historic moment.
Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan!
The nation is proud of your exemplary courage.
Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 1, 2019
“Good to be back,” Wing Commander Abhinandan told the officials after crossing over at Attari check post. As he reached the Indian side, Indian Army officers shook his hand, guarded him and whisked him away in a convoy.
Proud of you Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth. Salute. Vande Mataram.
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) March 1, 2019
The braveheart was captured by our neighbouring country Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down in action with Pakistan Air Force jets near the Line of Control (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”.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) March 1, 2019
It may be mentioned that Pakistan’s Foreign Office described IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan as a “prisoner of war” (POW). The 35-year-old Wing Commander was made to record a video statement by Pakistan authorities before he was allowed to cross the border.
In the video, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman says he crossed the LoC to “find a target”, but his fighter jet was shot down. “The army personnel saved me from the mob. The Pakistani army is very professional,” the pilot says in the video, that seems to be edited and has at least 16 cuts.