IAF Pilot Abhinandan Wants to Return to Cockpit at the Earliest
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets  Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman a day after his return, on 2 March. 
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman a day after his return, on 2 March. (Photo: ANI)

IAF Pilot Abhinandan Wants to Return to Cockpit at the Earliest

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman conveyed to the IAF brass that he wants to return to the cockpit as soon as possible, officials told PTI on Sunday, 3 March.

For the last two days, the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot has been undergoing medical treatment at a military hospital in New Delhi.

In the MRI scan of the Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the doctors did not find any bugs, ANI reported on Sunday, 3 March quoting sources. The scan has also shown that there is an injury in his lower spine which could have happened due to his ejection from his MiG-21 after aerial engagement with an F-16.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthman in a hospital on Saturday, 2 March.

Get all updates of Indo-Pak tensions here.

Snapshotclose

  • Abhinandan crossed the border with Director India in Pakistan’s Foreign Office Dr Fareha Bugti and IAF Group Captain Joy Thomas Kurien
  • Pilot Abhinandan was arrested after an IAF aircraft was shot down by Pakistan on 27 February
  • Pak PM Imran Khan on 28 February said that Abhinandan was being released as a “peace gesture”
  • Abhinandan was released after multiple delays by the Pakistan authorities through the day

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Ministers VK Singh, Rajyavardhan Rathore Hope for an Early Return of IAF Pilot

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh on Thursday, 28 February, called Abhinandan an “embodiment of a mentally tough, selfless and courageous soldier” and expressed hope for an early return of the pilot.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore had also prayed for his well-being and early return.

Will Decide on IAF Pilot's PoW Status Soon: Pakistan

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal has said that the IAF Wing Commander is “safe and healthy”, reported Dawn.

“India has raised the matter of the pilot with us. We'll decide in a couple of days what convention will apply to him and whether to give him Prisoner of War status or not,” Faisal added.

KEY EVENT

May Consider Returning IAF Pilot If It Leads to De-Escalation: Pak

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is “willing” to return IAF Pilot if it leads to de-escalation between the two countries.

Speaking to Geo News, Qureshi further said , “Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to hold a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

KEY EVENT

IAF Pilot Has to be Repatriated Immediately, No Question of Any Deal: Govt Sources

Indian government sources cited by news agencies have said that India expects the IAF pilot to be repatriated unconditionally and immediately" with there being no question of any deal.

Will Release Captured Pilot Abhinandan Tomorrow: Imran Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, 28 February said that he is willing to release the captured pilot Abhinandan on Friday as a peace gesture.

He was addressing a joint parliamentary meeting in Pakistan parliament. The development was also confirmed by the Pakistan government on Twitter.

Kiran Bedi Expresses Happiness Over Abhinandan's Return

Puducherry Governor Kiran Bedi took to Twitter to express happiness over the news of pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s return to India.

'Step Towards Goodwill': Amarinder Singh on Pilot's Release

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh expressed happiness over the news of IAF pilot Abhinandan’s release from Pakistan.

“I'm very happy, I had demanded his release earlier too. This is going to be a step towards goodwill and I hope this will be lasting,” he said.

'Great Gesture': Mehbooba Mufti on Pilot's Release

Former J&K CM and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said that the release of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is a “great gesture” by Pakistan.

Best News for Every Citizen of India: Robert Vadra

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra said that this was the best news for the pilot’s family and the citizens of India.

"It is the best news for his family and every citizen of India," he said.

'Greatly Relieved': Omar Abdullah on Pilot Abhinandan

Former J&K chief minister and NC leader Omar Abdullah said that he was greatly relieved by the announcement of the release of pilot Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan.

Army, Navy, Air Force Address Media

The Indian Air Force, in a joint briefing with the Indian Army and the Navy on Thursday, 28 February said that it was happy about Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s return from Pakistan.

“We are happy that our pilot who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in custody of Pakistan is being released, we're extremely happy to have him back,” Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said.

Asked if it sees the release of Varthaman as a good will gesture, he said, “We see this as a gesture in consonance with Geneva conventions.”

Pilot Abhinandan's Parents Head to Delhi

Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s parents have left from their Chennai residence and are heading to Delhi.

'Sent Notice to Youtube to Take Down Pilot's Videos Put By Pak': Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that a notice was sent to Youtube to take down videos of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman uploaded by Pakistan.

“We had received complaints, yesterday an unfortunate instance had come up where humiliating videos of the Wing Commander (Abhinandan) had been uploaded on YouTube from Pakistan’s side. We had sent a notice to YouTube and complying with the same they took down 11 such videos,” he said.

Punjab CM Requests PM Modi to Let Him Receive Pilot Abhinandan at Wagah Border

Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted PM Modi requesting to be allowed to receive Pilot Abhinandan at the Wagah-Attari border on Friday.

IAF to Receive Wing Commander Varthaman at Wagah Border Post: Sources

A delegation of IAF team will on Friday, 1 March receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan during an aerial combat, at the Wagah border, official sources said.

It is not clear whether Varthaman will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan.

US Welcomes Pakistan's Decision to Release Captured Indian Pilot

The United States on Thursday, 28 February, welcomed Pakistan's decision to release captured IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was in their custody.

“We welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's commitment that Pakistan will release on Friday the Indian pilot held in its custody,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI while responding to a question on the announcement made by Khan in the Pakistani parliament.

Simultaneously, the US has urged both India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions.

Abhinandan to be Handed Over at Wagah Border: Sources to Geo News

According to sources cited by Geo News, IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan would be handed over at the Wagah border crossing to Indian High Commission officials.

IAF Pilot's Parents Applauded During Flight to Delhi

In a heartwarming video that surfaced on social media, passengers on a flight from Chennai to Delhi applauded on seeing the parents of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

The IAF pilot's parents are now en route to Amritsar to receive Abhinandan.

Also Read : IAF Pilot Abhinandan’s Family Receive Impromptu Standing Ovation 

IAF Pilot Likely to Cross Wagah Border Between 12 pm and 2 pm

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is likely to cross the Wagah border in the afternoon between 12 pm and 2 pm, media reports said on Friday, 1 March.

KEY EVENT

‘Return of IAF Pilot Abhinandan Our Diplomatic Victory’: Amit Shah

Hours before the expected release of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, BJP President Amit Shah on Friday, 1 March, reportedly said, "Creating the situation for return of pilot Abhinandan in such a short span of time is our diplomatic victory."

The BJP president further said that Pakistan PM Imran Khan should have criticised the Pulwama "at least once", further questioning how the Indian government could trust him, reported PTI.

He also attacked the Opposition for its resolution after the air strikes, saying it gave "ammunition to Pakistan".

Speaking at a media house's conclave, Shah praised his government's track record as far as dealing with terrorism is concerned.

“The track record of our government has been best in dealing with terror since Independence... Maximum number of terrorists have been eliminated under the BJP government led by Modi”
Amit Shah, as quoted by PTI

Indian High Commission Processes Documents for IAF Pilot's Release

The India High Commission in Pakistan has reportedly processed the documents needed for the release of the IAF pilot. The documents have now been given to Pakistan.

IAF Pilot Will be Released This Afternoon: Pak Foreign Minister

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would be released on Friday afternoon via the Wagah border.

Many Gather at Wagah Border to Welcome IAF Pilot

Many people have gathered at the Wagah border to welcome IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who is expected to return to India in the afternoon.

Sand Artist Sudarsan Pattnaik Salutes IAF Pilot

Odisha sand artist and Padma Shri awardee Sudarsan Pattnaik posts an image of his sand art ahead of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's return to India.

Senior IAF Team to Receive Abhinandan: Deputy Commissioner

Speaking on the imminent return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Deputy Commissioner for Amritsar Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said, "Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will cross the border today, can't tell you the exact time since there are certain formalities. A senior Indian Air Force team from Delhi is here, they will be the ones to receive him."

IAF Pilot Handed Over to Indian High Commission

IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman has been handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

Pakistan to Release IAF Pilot Around 3 pm: Sources

Pakistan Foreign Office sources cited by Dawn said the country has conveyed to the Indian authorities of its decision to release the IAF pilot around 3 pm.

Pak Court 'Dismisses' Petition to Stop the Release of IAF Pilot

A Pakistani citizen on Friday, 1 March, had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court to stop the release of captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, saying he had committed crime against the country and should be put on trial in Pakistan.

However, according to reports, the petition was dismissed by the court as it said that it cannot interfere in foreign policy matters.

The petition in the Islamabad HC sought the court's order to stop Prime Minister Imran Khan's government from handing over the Indian Air Force pilot.

The petitioner said the Indian pilot had violated the airspace of Pakistan to bomb the country and, therefore, he had committed crime against Pakistan and should face trial in the country.

India Wanted IAF Pilot to be Sent Back by Air, Request Was Ignored: Sources

Hours after Pakistan had announced its decision to release IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, India had conveyed to Islamabad that it wants him to be sent back via aerial route and not through the Wagah land border, official sources cited by PTI said.

However, late in the night, Pakistan communicated to India that he will be returned through the Attari-Wagah border.

The Indian defence establishment was also mulling over sending a special aircraft to Pakistan to bring back Varthaman.

KEY EVENT

'Returning IAF Pilot Welcome Move, First of Many Steps Pak Must Take': VK Singh

Minister of States for External Affairs VK Singh took to Twitter to welcome the gesture of returning the captured IAF pilot by Pakistan. However, he added that the country needs to put in more effort against terrorism to "reinforce their commitment to peace".

Beating Retreat Ceremony Cancelled Due to IAF Pilot's Arrival

The daily Retreat ceremony held at the Attari-Wagah border front along the India-Pakistan border in Punjab has been "cancelled" for Friday, the BSF said.

A senior official of the force said the martial ceremony has been called off due to administrative requirements in the wake of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release post noon at this frontier.

The public will not be allowed in the ceremony area that is located in the Attari of Punjab along the Indo-Pak border, the BSF official said.

'Would Love to Receive Him, But There's a Laid Out Protocol': Amarinder Singh

Hours after requesting to be allowed to receive IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman at the Wagah border, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh told ANI:

”(I) would love to go (to receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman but there’s a laid out protocol whenever anybody comes back, like (what) happened to Prisoners of war in 1965 and 1971. They had to first go for medical and then be debriefed. I think same process will be followed here.”
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh 

Every Indian Should Be Proud of Abhinandan: PM Modi

Addressing a public meeting in Kanyakumari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “every Indian is proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinandan is from Tamil Nadu.”

Pakistan Turns Down India's Request to Send IAF Pilot by Air: Sources

Pakistan has turned down a request by India to send back Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by aerial route and not through the Attari-Wagah land border, official sources said Friday.

They said hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the decision to release Varthaman, India conveyed to Islamabad that he be sent back via the aerial route.

However, late in the night, Pakistan conveyed to India that the pilot will be returned through the Attari-Wagah border and India's request could not be heeded to, the sources said.

Varthaman was captured by Pakistan after his Mig-21 Bison was shot down by a Pakistani jet during a fierce dogfight on Wednesday.

IAF Pilot Abhinandan to Return to India Via Wagah Border Shortly

Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured by Pakistan in an aerial combat, is set arrive in India via Wagah border shortly.

Abhinandan Returns to India, to Enter Attari Shortly

IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan after an aerial combat, reportedly arrived in India via the Wagah border on Friday, 1 March.

Abhinandan Returns Home

IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan after an aerial combat, arrived in India via the Attari-Wagah border on Friday, 1 March. He was received by a team of the Indian Air Force.

He was accompanied by IAF Group Captain Joy Thomas Kurien and Defence Attache to Indian High Commission in Pakistan.

Pakistan had changed the time of handover twice, sources told ANI.

Abhinandan to Undergo Medical Examination

"We are happy to have him back," said a top IAF officer Friday night shortly after the captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian authorities by Pakistan at the border point here.

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.

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

Your Dignity, Poise & Bravery Made Us Proud: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted that IAF pilot Abhinandan’s “dignity, poise and bravery” made India proud.

'Proud of You,' Tweets Defence Minister

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted that Abhinandan was an inspiration to the youth of the nation.

‘Nation Proud of Abhinandan’s Exemplary Courage,’ Tweets PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan tweeting that the nation is proud of his exemplary courage.

Abhinandan Varthaman Reaches Delhi

Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman landed in Delhi on Friday, 1 March night, hours after he was handed over to India by Pakistan after being in captivity for nearly three days.

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.

Imran Khan Was in Lahore to Ensure 'Smooth' Handing Over of Indian Pilot: Sources

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was present in Lahore to oversee the 'smooth' handing over captured Indian Air Force pilot to India at the Wagah border on Friday, 1 March, official sources told PTI.

Khan arrived in Lahore on Friday afternoon, a couple of hours before IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was brought to the Wagah border from Islamabad, amid high security.

"PM Khan's main purpose of being in the town was to oversee the 'smooth' handing over of the captured Indian pilot to the Border Security Force," an official source told PTI.

He said during his stay Khan held a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, who praised the premier for ordering the release of the Indian pilot.

They said this gesture would establish that Pakistan was a peace loving country and wanted peace with its neighbouring countries especially India.

Buzdar said, "This move will help de-escalte tensions between India and Pakistan." "The prime minister stayed in the city till the time the Indian pilot was handed over to his country. Later, he left for Islamabad," the source added.

Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement issued after handing over of the Indian pilot to India said: "Prime Minister Imran Khan who announced his (Varthaman's) return as a 'goodwill gesture' aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India."

Pakistan Calls Abhinandan "Prisoner of War" in Statement Issued Minutes After His Return

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.

The statement described the pilot as an "India POW".

'It is Good to be Back in my Country': Abhinandan

"It is good to be back in my country," was the first reaction of IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as he set foot on Indian soil.

This was stated by an official quoting Varthaman after he received the pilot at the Attari-Wagah border.

UN Chief Welcomes Abhinandan's Release

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan and asked both the countries to keep up the "positive momentum".

A statement issued by his spokesperson's office shortly after Varthaman returned to India read: "We welcome the news of the Pakistani authorities releasing the captive Indian pilot today. The Secretary-General calls on both parties to sustain this positive momentum and engage in further constructive dialogue".

Guterres also reiterated his offer to facilitate a dialogue should both countries agree.

Wing Commander Abhinandan to Undergo Medical Tests Today

Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was handed over to India by Pakistani officials on Friday, will undergo a physical as well as a psychological test today. According to reports, the tests will help ascertain whether or not the pilot had sustained injuries after having ejected from the MiG-21 via a parachute.

Now the Meaning of 'Abhinandan' Will Change: PM Modi

Speaking at the 'Construction Techonolgy India'19' in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the meaning of ‘Abhinandan’ would now change.

“Hindustan jo bhi karega, duniya use gaur se dekhti hai. Is desh ki takat hai ki dictionary ke shabdon ke arth badal deta hai. Kabhi ‘#Abhinandan’ ka angrezi hota tha ‘Congratulation’, ab ‘Abhinandan’ ka arth badal jaayega.”

Abhinandan Met With IAF Chief, To Be Put Up At Mess: Officials.

Quoting IAF officials, news agency ANI reported that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman met with IAF Chief BS Dhanoa on Saturday morning and explained his detention in Pakistan. The IAF pilot will be put up at the Air Force Mess, the report added.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Meets Abhinandan

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthman in a hospital today.

Exemplary Bravery Shown by Abhinandan A Source of Inspiration for Youth: Gadkari

Exemplary bravery and commitment to the nation displayed by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is a source of inspiration for the youth, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday.

The safe return of the brave pilot is a matter of happiness and relief for the country, he said on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.

"The safe return of our brave Wing Commander is a matter of much happiness and relief for India. The exemplary bravery and commitment to the nation shown by him will inspire our youth," Gadkari said.

Extending his best wishes to Varthaman, Gadkari said what else could bring more happiness than his safe return with full pride.

Abhinandan Not Physically Tortured But Mentally Harassed in Pak: Report

Quoting sources who spoke to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman after his return from Pakistan, ANI reported that although the IAF pilot wasn’t physically tortured by the Pakistanis; he was made to go through a lot of mental harassment.

Pak Withholds Abhinandan's Possessions Except for His Ring, Watch, Specs

A report on India Today stated that IAF wing Commander Abhinanandan Varthaman returned home from Pakistan without the possessions that he had on himself when he landed in PoK except for his ring, watch and spectacles.

Upon ejecting from his crashed MiG 21 Bison, IAF wing Commander Abhinanandan Varthaman had his pistol, a survival kit, maps and some confidential documents that he managed to destroy.

The report also said that the “taking over certificate” referred to Abhinandan Varthaman as a prisoner of war, whereas India hasn’t referred to him as a prisoner of war.

Abhinandan Varthaman's Lower Spine Injured, a Rib Also Hurt

In the MRI scan of the Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the doctors did not find any bugs, ANI reported quoting sources. The scan has also shown that there is an injury in his lower spine which could have happened due to his ejection from his MiG-21 after aerial engagement with an F-16.

A rib was also injured due to assault by Pakistani locals soon after he landed on ground in PoK after his plane was shot down. He will undergo more check ups and treatment at Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi Cantonment.

MoS Defence Bhamre Meets Abhinandan

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Rao Bhamre met IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Army Hospital Research And Referral in Delhi.

IAF Pilot Varthaman Wants to Return to Cockpit at the Earliest

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who became the face of the tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan, conveyed to the IAF brass that he wants to return to the cockpit as soon as possible, officials said on Sunday, 3 March.

For the last two days, the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot has been undergoing medical treatment at a military hospital in New Delhi.

Varthaman told senior IAF commanders and doctors treating him that he wants to start flying at the earliest, the officials told PTI.

His health condition is being monitored by a group of doctors at the Army's Research and Referral hospital, the officials said.

"The efforts have been to ensure that he returns to the cockpit soon," said a military official.

The officials said Varthaman has been in high spirits despite the harassment he suffered in Pakistan.

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