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Indian Air Force pilot returns to India to a rapturous welcome

March 2, 2019

After two days in the custody of the Pakistani authorities, Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is back in India. Large crowds gathered at the border to give him a grand welcome. This included his parents, who flew down from Chennai to welcome their son. Emotional scenes were witnessed at the reunion.

Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by the Pakistan Army on Wednesday when his aircraft was shown down the border and he landed across the border. He was beaten up by locals before being rescued by a Pakistani army official.

Varthaman was brought from Rawalpindi to Lahore in Pakistan after all the formal protocols were completed. He was handed to the Border Security Force and then taken to the Amritsar airport where he flew to Delhi in a special plane.

Earlier on Thursday Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced his release as a gesture of peace.

We have an Indian pilot. As a peace gesture, we will release him. -Imran Khan, Prime Minister, Pakistan

There was substantial pressure put on Pakistan by the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates leading to his release. The Indian government stated that this was no goodwill gesture but was expected under the Geneva Convention.

The Border Security Force had cancelled the daily retreat ceremony along the Attari-Wagah border on Friday.

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