New Delhi, Feb 1: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the Wagah-Attari border post into India from Pakistan on Friday evening, returning home after his capture by Pakistani authorities on Wednesday. Pakistani officials handed over Varthaman to Indian officials, including from the IAF, at the Attari-Wagah Border. However, the pilot was whisked away in a convoy by Indian officials away from the public glare. According to IAF officials, he will be brought to Delhi from Amritsar in a special flight. Varthaman was captured by Pakistani authorities on February 27 after an air combat between the air forces of the two countries, a day after New Delhi conducted strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing a special joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday announced his release as a “peace gesture”. However, India has been maintaining that Pakistani decision is in consonance with the Geneva Convention. The Pakistan government was under tremendous international pressure to de-escalate the tensions with India and release the captured pilot. Forty nine CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.
Every Indian is proud of him: PM Press Trust of India Kanyakumari (TN), Mar 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday hailed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman saying every Indian was proud of him and lashed out at political rivals for suspecting the armed forces which, he said, helped Pakistan. Modi also hit out at the previous Congress-led UPA government for allegedly “blocking,” surgical strikes post 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008. After inaugurating several government projects here, Modi said “I am proud that India’s first woman Defence Mininster Nirmala ji is from Tamil Nadu. Every Indian is proud that the brave wing commander Abhinandan belongs to Tamil Nadu.” “The events of the past two days, an apparent reference to IAF’s air strikes and the IAF shooting down a Pakistan jet, have demonstrated yet again the strengths of the country’s armed forces,” Modi said. “It has also brought our nation closer,” the prime minister said, an obvious pointer to the outpouring of support to Abhinandan and India’s armed forces from the people. However, he said, it was sad that a few political parties “suspect our fight against terror.” When the entire nation supports the country’s armed forces, they “suspect the armed forces,” he said. “These are the same people whose statements are helping Pakistan and harming India. They are the same people whose statements are happily quoted in the Parliament of Pakistan and in the radio of Pakistan,” Modi said. He rued the bomb blasts at Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune between 2004 and 2014 when the UPA was in power. “But when Uri happened, you show what our brave soldiers did (surgical strikes), Pulwama happened, and you show what our brave air warriors did (Balakot air strikes). I salute those who are serving their nation. Their vigilance keeps the nation secure,” he said.