Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander, Abhinandan Varthaman’s plane crashed in the disputed territory of Kashmir, over the Pakistan border, on Wednesday. The Indian pilot, arrested by Pak forces, crossed the border to re-enter India on Friday. He was received by a large crowd of civilians gathered around the border to welcome the national hero
Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan on Friday amid ongoing security conflict between India and Pakistan post the February Pulwama Attacks. On Wednesday, IAF Wing Commander, Abhinandan Varthaman’s plane was shot down in the disputed territory of Kashmir, over the LOC, subsequently, the pilot was captured by Pak authorities. In the midst of increasing international pressure on both India and Pakistan to resolve conflict, Pakistani PM, Imran Khan announced the release of Indian pilot as a gesture of peace, India welcomed the initiative.
The Indian nation emerged united, with the government, regional parties, the opposition, and citizens, all coming together for the release of pilot Varthaman. According to an official statement that came out soon after the IAF commander’s arrest, India refused any bargain or deal regarding the pilot’s return. This was followed by PM Imran Khan’s announcement in the Pakistani Parliament. On Thursday, he averred, “In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody.” Urging further talks with India, Pak PM asserted that the two nations “have to live in peace”.
A huge crowd, gathered on the Indian side of the border, welcomed pilot Varthaman as he re-entered India through the Wagah check post around 9 pm (IST) on Friday. Upon arrival, the IAF pilot asserted, “It is good to be back in my country”. While the Indian PM, Narendra Modi tweeted, “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”, Vice Chief Marshal R G K Kapoor affirmed that pilot Varthaman will now go through a “detailed medical checkup.” The Vice Chief Marshal added that the checkup was “mandatory as he had to eject from an airplane which would have put his entire body under stress.” Celebrating the homecoming of pilot Varthaman, Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharama tweeted, “Jai Hind”.
According to PM Narendra Modi, the whole situation brought India closer. Applauding the nation’s united spirit on Friday, he said, “The way the nation has supported our armed forces is extraordinary and I bow to every Indian for that.”
The pilot’s arrest has come soon after IAF launched a successful mission against Jaish-e-Mohammed training camps in Balakot.