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Abhinandan Varthaman returns to India: IAF Wing Commander crosses Wagah border

Mar 1 (AZINS) Abhinandan Varthaman, who was in Pakistan's custody, was released on Friday by Islamabad. The Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander crossed the Wagah border around 9:20 pm. Abhinandan was received by a team of Indian Air Force at Wagah border in Amritsar, Punjab.

Wearing blue blazer and grey khaki trouser, he crossed over into India from the Attari-Wagah border at 9:20 PM. He was handed over by the Pakistan Rangers to the BSF following paperwork.Abhinandan was accompanied by an officer of the Pakistan Foreign Office and Indian Defence Attache Group Captain Joy Thomas Kurien.

Announcing the release, Air Vice Marshall RGK Kapoor said that as per standard operating procedures, Wing Commander Abhinandan will be taken for a detailed medical checkup as he had to eject after his plane was shot and his body would have suffered "deep stress."

"Abhinandan has just been handed over to us. As per standard operating procedure of IAF, he will now be taken for detailed medical check-up, this is mandatory because the officer had to eject from an aeroplane which would have put his entire body under great stress. IAF is happy to have Wing Commander Abhinandan back," he told media.

Thousands of people waited for hours at the Attari-Wagah border to greet the IAF officer. Waving the tricolour, they kept chanting slogans praising his bravado.

Initially, Varthaman was to be released earlier in the day. However, sources said that Pakistan changed the timing of handover twice.

Abhinandan crashed in PoK on Wednesday

Abhinandan, who was flying MiG 21, was captured when he shot down a Pakistani fighter jet F-16 on Wednesday after Pakistan violated ceasefire and targetted military installations in India.

Pakistan tried to attack military installations in India after IAF targeted the largest Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror training camp in Balakot, Pakistan killing more than 300 terrorists. India's air strikes were in retaliation to the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were martyred on February 14.

Seeking Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman release, India created international pressure on Pakistan by reaching out to the world community and by citing Geneva convention rules, which ensures the release of prisoners of war. It was on Thursday when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that they will release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on March 1 (Friday).

A large crowd had gathered at Wagah border in order to ensure a grand welcome for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and to salute his valour. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his rally in Kanyakumari on Friday said that everyone in India was proud that Wing Commander Abhinandan is from Tamil Nadu.