India’s hero Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India on Friday through the Wagah border in Punjab. Ahead of his return to India, the famous Retreat Ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border was cancelled.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was expected to arrive in India in the afternoon, but for several hours there was no news. This gave rise to suspicion that Pakistan may renege on its promises and not return him to India.
Later, an Air Force officer of Air Vice Marshal rank read out a statement confirming that Wg Cdr Abhinandan had arrived back in India and he was being taken for a complete medical check-up to assess the impact on his body following the ejection out of the MiG 21. He said that he will not be taking any questions from the waiting media.
He was captured by the Pakistani troops on Wednesday after his MiG 21 crashed in the neighbouring country’s territory. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday had stunned everyone by announcing the release of the Indian Air Force officer.
The video released by the Pakistani military on Wednesday had shown Wing Commander Abhinandan incredibly composed even while being blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. His firm tone while addressing the officers of the Pakistani army had made him an instant hero with Indians applauding his bravery even in the face of adversity.
Speaking in the joint session of parliament, Imran Khan on Thursday had said, “As a peace gesture we are releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan tomorrow.” Khan said this to his parliament on Thursday. The joint session of Parliament was called to discuss the rising tensions with India. The announcement was greeted by the thumping of desks by Pakistani lawmakers.
“I have a feeling that the Indian public does not agree with the current government’s warmongering. If their media had seen what our media has seen over the past 17 years, they would not have created this war hysteria,” the Pakistani prime minister had said.
In contrast, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under considerable condemnation for his silence on the topic and choosing to attend his election rallies in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, while India’s hero, also from Tamil Nadu, is returning home.
Wing Commander Abhinandan’s act during the aerial engagement with a Pakistani F16 also assumes significance because he is perhaps only the first ever Air Force pilot to have downed an F16 while flying the Russin MiG jet.
The Indian Air Force on Thursday showed the evidence of the Pakistani Air Force using F-16s to target Indian military installations. Senior Air Force officers displayed the cover of the AMRAAM missile fired from Pakistani F-16 aircrafts found near the LoC in India after the press conference concluded.
Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor had said, “There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission through their electronic signatures. Parts of AMRAAM, air to air missile which is carried only on the Pakistani F-16s was recovered east of Rajouri within the Indian territory.” He said that the Indian Air Force had shot down one Pakistani F-16.