New Delhi: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot held captive by Pakistan for two days, reached India on Friday evening. He was received by a delegation of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Wagah Border.
Earlier in the day, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad had completed the travel documentation of IAF pilot. Reportedly, Pakistani authorities will bring him from Rawalpindi to Lahore and hand him over to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) under rules of the Geneva Convention. (ALSO READ – He Talked so Bravely, We Are so Proud of Him: Father of IAF Pilot Abhinandan)
The 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 has been in Pakistan since then.
Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan buckled under the global pressure and announced in Parliament that Abhinandan 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.
Addressing a news conference, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, “We are very happy Abhinandan will be freed tomorrow and look forward to his return,” told a news conference. Asked if the IAF sees it as a goodwill move, he said, “We see it as a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Conventions.”
Meanwhile, the IT Ministry asked YouTube to remove 11 video links related to Wing Commander Abhinandan. After directing YouTube to pull down objectionable video links of the IAF pilot, the Government sent out a stern warning to social media firms not to allow their platforms to be abused for ‘weakening the morale of the country’.
Tensions between the two countries escalated after India carried out ‘pre-emptive’ strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot during wee hours on Tuesday. The action came in retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans were killed on February 14 in south Kashmir as an explosive-laden vehicle rammed into a bus in the convoy. The attack was carried out by JeM militant Adil Ahmad Dar.