‘Welcome home Wing Commander’, tweets PM after IAF pilot’s homecoming
New Delhi, Mar 01: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, saying the nation is proud of your exemplary courage.
"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!," PM Modi tweeted.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted, "Proud of you Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman. 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. Jai Hind."
Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad too lauded the pilot for his bravery and welcomed him back to the country.
Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the Wagah-Attari border post into India from Pakistan on Friday evening, two days after his capture by Pakistani forces.
Pakistan's Foreign Office on Friday announced the returning of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India but described him as a "prisoner of war" (POW).
In a statement issued minutes after the pilot crossed over to India from the Wagah-Attari border, the FO said, "While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law."
"The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been returned to India today," it said. Varthaman was arrested when his jet MIG-21 crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after being shot down by Pakistan Air Force on February 27.
The statement described the pilot as an "India POW". Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the Indian pilot's return in Parliament on Thursday as a "goodwill gesture" aimed at de-escalating rising tensions between the two countries following the February 14 Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group.