Attired in civilian clothes, Abhinandan walked across the Zero Line at 9.20 pm as the Pakistan Rangers handed him over to the BSF. He was whisked away by IAF personnel, and the hundreds who had gathered there to welcome him failed to catch a glimpse.
Ending an anxious wait that saw day turn to night, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who was captured two days ago by the Pakistan Army after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down as he chased PAF intruders, returned home Friday night via the Wagah-Attari border crossing.
Attired in civilian clothes, he walked across the Zero Line at 9.20 pm as the Pakistan Rangers handed him over to the BSF. Group Captain J T Kurien, Air Advisor in the Indian High Commission, and Fareeha Bugti, Director (India) in the Pakistan Foreign Office, had accompanied him to the crossing. He was whisked away by IAF personnel, and the hundreds who had gathered there to welcome him failed to catch a glimpse.
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Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, reading from a prepared statement, told reporters: “Wing Commander Abhinandan has just been handed over to us as per standing operating procedure of Indian Air Force. We will now take him for a detailed medical check-up. This check-up is mandated particularly because the officer has had to eject from an aeroplane which would have put his entire body under great stress. IAF is happy to have Abhinandan back.”
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon told reporters that the pilot said he was happy to be back in his country. The repatriation triggered celebrations across the country where people had waited hours, glued to TV sets to watch the return home.