New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the meaning of ‘Abhinandan’ in English, which is ‘welcome’, would change now because ‘India has the strength to change the meaning of words in the dictionary’. His statement comes in an apparent reference to the return of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to India from Pakistan on Friday. (It’s Good to be Back: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s First Reaction on Return to India)

Speaking at Construction Technology India 2019 in New Delhi, PM Modi said, “Hindustan jo bhi karega, duniya use gaur se dekhti hai. Is desh ki takat hai ki dictionary ke shabdon ke arth badal deta hai. Kabhi ‘#Abhinandan’ ka angrezi hota tha ‘Welcome’, ab ‘Abhinandan’ ka arth badal jaayega (The world takes note of what India does … India has the strength to change the meaning of words in the dictionary. Abhinandan once used to mean welcome. And now the meaning of Abhinandan will change).”

Earlier on Friday, soon after Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhidhanan returned to India, PM Modi called him an an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. “Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. Vande Mataram,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Wing Commander Abhinandan, who remained in Pakistan’s custody for over 60 hours, was received by senior Border Security Force (BSF) officers at Zero Line that marks the India-Pakistan land border (Attari-Wagah border) post 9 PM. The BSF then handed him over to the IAF. The pilot underwent a detailed medical checkup to gauge his fitness levels late at night after a brief meeting with his family in New Delhi.

The Wing Commander’s release from Pakistan came a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament that he would be released on Friday as a ‘peace gesture’. However, India disagreed to his claim stating that it was a gesture in consonance with all Geneva conventions.

IAF pilot Abhinandan’s MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight as three Pakistani jets violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera and Poonch on Wednesday. He remained in Pakistan Army’s custody since then.