New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Commenting on Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthamans safe return to India from Pakistans custody, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the nation was proud of the brave officer.
“Proud of you Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth. Salute. Vande Mataram,” Sitharaman tweeted.
Varthaman was captured by the Pakistan Army on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison was shot down during a dogfight and he ejected.
He landed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir across the Line of Control (LoC) where he was manhandled by local villagers. He was later rescued and taken into custody by the Pakistan Army.
On February 28, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament that Varthaman would be handed over to India on Friday.
The fighter pilot was handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah-Atari border in Punjab on Friday evening.
Dressed in a blue coat, grey trousers and white shirt, he was received by senior Border Security Force officers at 9.21 p.m. at the Zero Line that marks the India-Pakistan land border.