Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday visited Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at an armed forces medical facility in New Delhi and enquired about his health. She was accompanied by senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officials. The IAF pilot looked fine and sat straight in a chair during his interaction with the Defence Minister.
Abhinandan, who returned home on Friday after spending over two days in the custody of the Pakistani Army, is undergoing a thorough medical check-up at the hospital as his body had undergone stress due to ejection from his MiG-21 Bison aircraft after it was shot down by Pakistani firing on February 27.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had welcomed the returned of the Wing Commander on Twitter after he returned to India through the Wagah-Attari border at around 9.25 pm on Friday.
‚ÄúProud 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,‚ÄĚ she tweeted.
Dressed in a blue suit, Wing Commander Abhinandan was officially received by a delegation of officials of the Indian Air Force at the Wagah border amid high security. Air Vice Marshals Prabhakaran and RGK Kapoor were present to receive him. The pilot was whisked away in a convoy by Indian officials away from the public glare.
Addressing the media, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor had on Friday stated that Wing Commander Abhinandan was released as per the standard operating procedures. He will be taken for a detailed medical check-up because he has ejected from an aircraft which puts a strain on the body.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was taken into custody by Pakistan on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down in PoK. Pakistani fighters jets had invaded Indian airspace on Wednesday morning, with IAF aircraft including Wing Commander Abhinandan giving chase to Pakistani F-16s across the Line of Control (LoC). Media reports state that the Wing Commander had brought down PAF‚Äôs F-16 jet before his MiG-21 Bison aircraft received hits and was brought down. He was then apprehended by officials of the Pakistani Army on the same day and taken into custody.
A day later, Pakistan Prime Minister told the Pakistan National Assembly that Wing Commander Abhinandan will be released on Friday (March 1) as a ‚Äėpeace gesture and as a first step to open negotiations.‚Äô
After delaying his handover twice on Friday, Pakistan finally released the Wing Commander at 9.25 pm.