Rashmi Talwar

Captured IAF Wing Commander back home

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Wagah-Attari (Amritsar) March 1, 2019-  IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan after an aerial combat, arrived in India via the Wagah-Attari Joint Check Post ( JCP) between India and Pakistan on Friday 1st March 2019.

He was received by a team of Indian Air Force officials and whisked off soon after landing on Indian soil. Till the filing of this report, Varthaman, was still in the company of officials of IAF for his medical checkup and debriefing. The IAF along with Indian Army and Navy welcomed the return of Varthaman.

A day earlier on February 28th Pakistan PM Imran Khan had announced the release of the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of peace.

Varthaman was captured by Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down by a Pakistani jet during a fierce dogfight on Wednesday.

The formal beating retreat ceremony at the border was called off due to administrative compulsions. A token ceremony was carried though without any public being allowed at the ceremony area near the JCP gates.

Minister of State for External affairs VK Singh took to Twitter to welcome the gesture of returning the captured IAF pilot by Pakistan. He added that Pakistan needs to do more against terrorism to reinforce their commitment to peace.

India had conveyed to Islamabad that it wants the Indian pilot to be sent by aerial route. However late at night it was conveyed to New Delhi that the pilot would be sent through the Amritsar JCP.

Amritsar DC Shiv Dular Singh was also here to receive besides many others gathered to hail the return of the pilot.

Meanwhile, a refreshing development between the two countries was the hashtags #AntiHatechallenge #NotoWar at  Lahore Press Club where Saleema Hashmi,  daughter of famous poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, supported safe return of Abhinandan Varthman’s to India.

Sehyr Mirza an independent journalist along with father Saeed Ahmed journalist, columnist, co playwright of film Manto and author of book on legendry Indian actor Dilip Kumar also held placards demanding release of Indian pilot.

Saeed even wrote, “Pakistan’s diplomatic blunder, not going  to OIC meeting, must go and explain and avoid further isolation” on his FB wall.

Pak foreign minister Mahmood Qureshi has announced that he will not attend the foreign ministers' meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states over the invitation extended to Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. India is not a member of the OIC, but was invited as a guest of honour.

Happy to have him back: IAF

Wagah, March 1:  "We are happy to have him back," said a top IAF officer Friday night shortly after the captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian authorities by Pakistan at the border point here.

Reading out a brief statement, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, told a posse of reporters that the pilot will be taken for a detailed medical examination as he was subjected to lot of stress during his nearly three-day captivity.

The Air Vice Marshal did not take any questions from the media.(PTI)

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