NEW DELHI / ATTARI: Wing Commander
Abhinandan Varthaman returned to a hero’s welcome +
From his country on Friday, almost 60 hours after he was dramatically taken captive in PoK after being shot down while chasing an intruding Pakistani F-16
IAF special aircraft in the flight to fly to Pakistan for India’s request, after Pakistan reject India’s request for an awoning day-long wait via the Wagah-Attari border.
Abhinandan finally crossed the border around 9.25pm to enter India. He was received by his parents and senior IAF officers. Dressed in a blue blazer and gray trousers, he was accompanied by the border by
Joy Thomas Kurien, India’s air attache in Islamabad, and a director of the Pakistan Foreign Office.
“It’s good to be back in my country,” said the Amritsar deputy commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon quoted Abhinandan as saying. A huge crowd was gathered at Wagah-Attari border to have a glimpse of the fighter pilot who had captured the national imagination with his courage and grace under extreme pressure, but he was immediately taken to the airport and flown in an IAF Embraer jet to New Delhi.
A “confession” was extracted from Pakistan on an ISI facility in Lahore. Indian officials said this was extracted under duress and had only undermined Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s “peace gesture” of releasing him “This is in full violation of the Geneva Conventions,” said a senior official, while talking about how to quickly video media.
Abhinandan had a black eye but turned ramrod straight, betraying no sign of the injuries inflicted by the mob who had pounced on him when he got out of his MiG-21 and landed in PoK. As per protocol, he will first take a thorough medical examination to ascertain the extent of the injection and subsequent beating. If required, the wing commander will be hospitalized
He will also go through a “debriefing session” on his captivity in the military army.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had approached Pakistan’s foreign ministry earlier in the day with an official communication asking that the special Indian aircraft to India The government had also provided Islamabad with a list of officers who wanted to travel to Pakistan. This included an air vice marshal and two wing commanders.
India had sought flight clearance for Lahore and Islamabad, but Pakistan denied it, saying its air space was shut. “It was in the hands of Pakistani authorities to give clearance even if the air space was closed for commercial flights but that did not happen,” said an official.
Calling Varthaman a PoW, Pakistan said while in captivity, he had treated “with dignity and in line with international law”. It claimed the goodwill gesture was aimed at de-escalating growing tensions with India
Official sources here said after IAF pilot was brought to Lahore in the evening, he was taken to an ISI establishment and kept there for several hours. It is here that he was filmed talking about Pakistan authorities Indian officials said the video did not have much impact as it was a number of edits. Abhinandan also asked to make a similar statement in writing. According to officials here, this was the main reason for the delay in the wing commander’s arrival in India.
Government officials blamed Pakistan for turning Abhinandan’s return into a public spectacle. This is exactly what India wanted to avoid when it reached Pakistan.
“Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been released as per standard procedures and handed over to us. He will be taken for a detailed medical check-up because he had been ejected from an airplane who had been strain on his body. The IAF is happy to have him back, “Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said after his release.
Large groups of people, waving tricolors and dancing to drum beats, had gathered at Attari to greet Abhinandan. They did not return.
Worried about the presence of crowds at the border, India had even closed the flag downing ceremony for the public, which is held every evening.