Sunday, April 18, 2021

Abhinandan Varthaman Returns Home; Says Pakistan Army Treated Him Well

Abhinandan Varthaman – the captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot returned to India after spending nearly 60 hours in Pakistan. Smartly dressed in navy blue blazers, white shirt and grey trousers, Abhinandan briefly smiled as he crossed into India through the Attari-Wagah border, hours later than anticipated. 

India Building Bunkers But Not a Platform For Dialogue With Pakistan: Voice From Kashmir

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was shot down on Wednesday while flying a MiG-21 Bison in a dogfight with Pakistani aircraft and captured. “He will be taken for a detailed medical checkup. The officer has had to eject from a plane which would have put his body under immense strain,” said Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, reading out a short statement and refusing to take questions.

As Abhinandan Varthaman’s homecoming was lingered, “documentation” was cited as the hold-up. The Press Trust of India quoted sources as saying the handover was delayed as he was forced to record a statement on camera by Pakistani authorities before he was allowed to cross the border. Pakistan put out the video just before his release.

The pilot’s homecoming, which inspired many hashtags on social media, was celebrated across the nation with politicians, celebrities and others saluting his grace and courage in the most dangerous circumstances.

n4s5ej7

Abhinandan Varthman was in Pakistan’s captivity for around 60 hours. “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!” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Large crowds had waited for hours to welcome him at the Attari-Wagah crossing, holding flags and garlands and dancing and cheering.

To restrict the crowds, an elaborate flag-lowering ceremony at the Attari-Wagah crossing between Indian and Pakistani soldiers – which draws thousands of spectators on both sides – had been cancelled in the afternoon. New Delhi had earlier asked for permission to send a special IAF flight to bring back the pilot from Islamabad, say sources, but Pakistan rejected the request.

Abhinandan Varthaman, who comes from a family of decorated fighter pilots, became for many a symbol of hope and the easing of tension between India and Pakistan after their biggest standoff in years.

A video later showed Abhinandan Varthaman sipping tea, his eyes swollen. He calmly answered questions, refusing to speak on his mission while praising his treatment by the Pakistan Army.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement that he would be released as a “peace gesture” signaled a thaw after rapid escalation this week.

The announcement marked a dramatic shift in mood after the two countries engaged in an aerial clash for the first time in nearly 50 years on Wednesday. World leaders had urged both countries to step back as hostilities peaked over the past few days as India sent fighter planes to strike a terror training camp in Pakistan and Islamabad tried to target Indian military installations in response.

More News at EurAsian Times

Featured News

US-India EEZ Row: US ‘Tones Down’ Naval Ops Squabble In India’s Maritime Zone; China Calls It QUAD Dilemma

After calling it an innocent ‘passage’, the US has further toned down the controversy surrounding its naval operation in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)...

China To Conduct Most Rapid Expansion Of Nuclear Weapons & Delivery Mechanism Ever — US Report

China will continue its efforts to spread its influence, undercut that of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners,...

US’ F-35 Stealth Jets Not A Great Choice For Clash With China — Top USAF Official

A senior US Air Force officer has questioned the utility of the American F-35A stealth fighters against the adversary in a hypothetical US military...

Why Is India Not On The Same Page With Its ‘Democratic Allies’ On Myanmar’s Military Regime?

Days after condemning the ongoing violence in Myanmar at the United Nations, India has again changed its tone with regard to the country's military...

How QUAD Allies India & Japan Are Making Andaman Islands A Key Military Hub To Checkmate China

India and Japan which are part of the QUAD block seem to have joined hands in the Indian Ocean region. India's strategically-located Andaman &...