Abhinandan in Delhi, to undergo debriefing

Abhinandan in Delhi, to undergo debriefing
Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was released by Pakistan authorities at Wagah border Friday. PTI

New Delhi: Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India by Pakistan after being in captivity for nearly three days, will undergo debriefing Saturday.

He will undergo physiological as well as a physical check-ups in the presence of officials from the military and Intelligence agencies.

Varthaman landed in Delhi Friday night, hours after he was released by Pakistan. A group of people gave a rousing welcome to him at the Palam airport, from where he would be taken to a medical facility for examination. He was handed over to Indian authorities at Attari-Wagah border Friday evening.

Varthaman, who was captured on February 27 by Pakistan following a dogfight between the two air forces in which his MIG-21 was shot down, returned home from his nearly three-day captivity, a major step towards defusing a near-war situation triggered by India's retaliation over Pakistan's continued support for terrorism.

He finally emerged at 9.10pm (IST) at the Wagah checkpost on the Pakistani side, accompanied by Pakistani rangers, the Indian air attache posted in the High Commission in Islamabad. He was wearing civilian clothes - a dark jacket and khakhi trousers, walking proudly toward the gates that separated his captors' country from his homeland.

"We are happy to have him back," said a top IAF officer shortly after Varthaman was handed over to Indian authorities.

Reading out a brief statement, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, told a posse of reporters that the pilot will be taken for a detailed medical examination as he was subjected to lot of stress during his nearly three-day captivity.

"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 Kapoor.

The Air Vice Marshal did not take any question from the media.

Hero's welcome

Leaders cutting across party lines welcomed the return of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthman from captivity in Pakistan on Friday and lauded him for his poise and courage and for making the country proud.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the IAF Wing Commander, saying the nation is proud of his exemplary courage.

Abhinandan's capture in custody had sent shock waves across India.

He said the country's armed forces are an inspiration for the 130 crore Indians.

"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," he 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.

The IAF pilot's ordeal made him a focal point of the Indo-Pak tension.

"Welcome home. The entire nation is proud of Wing Commander Abhinandan," Singh, the Minister for Home Affairs, tweeted.

Prasad tweeted, "Proud of your courage Wing Commander Abhinandan! Welcome back home. Abhinandan to you. Jai Hind. Bharat Mata Ki Jai."

BJP president Amit Shah said Friday that the entire nation is proud of the courage and valour of the pilot and that India is glad to have him back.

"Dear Wing Commander Abhinandan, entire nation is proud of your courage and valour. India is glad to have you back. May you continue to serve the nation and IAF with unparalleled passion and dedication. Best wishes for your bright future," Shah said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi welcomed IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan said his dignity, poise and bravery have made all in India proud.

"Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, your dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud. Welcome back and much love," he said on Twitter.