New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman back to India and 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,” PM Modi tweeted, minutes after he (Abhinandan) was received warmly by senior Border Security Force (BSF) officers at Zero Line that marks the India-Pakistan land border.

Notably, Varthaman was held captive by Pakistani officials on Wednesday morning after his MiG-21 crashed on the other side while chasing down Pak’s F16 jet. (Also read: ‘He Spoke Bravely, We’re Proud of Him)

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also welcomed Varthaman and said that the entire nation appreciates his valour and grit. “Proud of you Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth. Salute. Vande Mataram,” the Defence Minister tweeted.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh said,”Welcome Home! The entire Nation is proud of Wing Commander Abhinandan.”

BJP president Amit Shah appreciated Varthaman after his home coming and said that entire nation is proud of his courage. “Dear Wing Commander Abhinandan, entire nation is proud of your courage and valour. India is glad to have you back. May you continue to serve the nation and IAF with unparalleled passion and dedication. Best wishes for your bright future,” Shah posted.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also welcomed Varthaman saying,”Your dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud.”Wing Commandar Abhinandan, your dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud. Welcome back and much love,” Gamdi posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Dressed in a blue coat, grey trousers and white shirt, the IAF Wing Commander crossed the border to return home late on Friday evening. After the Pakistan Rangers escorted him till the border gates, one BSF officer put his arm around the Indian Air Force officer and led him away, apparently for handing him over to the IAF officials.

The capture of the IAF pilot in Pakistani-administered Kashmir led to strong demands from Narendra Modi-led Indian government that he be handed over to India immediately and unharmed.