"Happy to be back", says Wing Commander Abhinandan
March 3, 2019
Captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is finally back in India after nearly 60 hours in Pakistan. His first words were "it is good to be back in my country".
The pilot was taken for a medical check-up. "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.
Varthaman's homecoming was delayed by many hours. One media report said that 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 was celebrated across the country with people saluting his grace and courage in dangerous circumstances.
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! - Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Large crowds waited for hours to welcome him at the border, holding flags and garlands and dancing and cheering. Varthaman comes from a family of decorated fighter pilots and images of him captured and bleeding left millions of Indians worried. The 38-year-old pilot was blindfolded, bleeding with his hands tied behind his back.
Later another video showed him sipping tea, his eyes swollen.
World leaders have urged India and Pakistan to step back as tensions rose over the last few days.