Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon speaking to reporters at Attari-Wagah border following the release of Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. Photo/ANI
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon speaking to reporters at Attari-Wagah border following the release of Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. Photo/ANI

Abhinandan gave a brilliant smile on touching Indian soil: Amritsar DC

ANI | Updated: Mar 01, 2019 22:55 IST

Attari-Wagah Border (Punjab) [India], Mar 1 (ANI): Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman gave a brilliant smile while stepping on the Indian soil, which was a heart-touching moment for all of us, said Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon on Friday night.
“The Pakistani authorities brought Wing Commander Abhinandan. The Indian Air Force authorities have taken him. Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor is accompanying him,” Dhillon told reporters.
Asked about the delay in repatriating Wing Commander Abhinandan, Dhillon said: “We don’t know the real reason. Travel from Islamabad to Wagah-Attari border by road is a long distance. All of us are happy to have him back.”
Wing Commander Varthaman returned home from Pakistan today, two days after he was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army when his MiG 21 was shot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Wearing blue blazer and grey ‘khaki’ trouser, he crossed over into India from Attari-Wagah border at 9:20 pm. He was handed over by the Pakistan Rangers to the BSF following the paperwork.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was accompanied by an officer of the Pakistan Foreign Office and Indian Defence Attaché Group Captain Joy Thomas Kurien.
Briefing the media, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said: “Abhinandan has just been handed over to us. As per the standard operating procedure of IAF, he will now be taken for a detailed medical check-up. This is mandatory because the officer had to eject from an aeroplane, which would have put his entire body under great stress. IAF is happy to have Wing Commander Abhinandan back.”
Thousands of people waited for hours at Attari-Wagah border to greet the IAF officer. Waving the tricolour, they kept chanting slogans, praising his bravado.
Initially, Wing Commander Varthaman was to be released earlier in the day. However, sources said that Pakistan changed the timing of handover twice. He is expected to be taken to New Delhi by an IAF plane, following which he would be debriefed by the IAF on his detention in Pakistan.
Sources also said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was keeping a close watch on the proceedings.
On Wednesday, Wing Commander Abhinandan, while flying the MiG 21 Bison, was chasing Pakistani F-16 fighters, which had transgressed into the Indian airspace, and in the process, his plane crossed over to Pakistani side and was shot down.
He ejected safely but was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army upon landing. Before his plane was shot, he had hit a Pakistani F-16. On Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of Varthaman, terming his decision “a peace gesture.” (ANI)

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