The wait is over as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who incidentally took his first flying lessons in Tezpur of Assam’s Sonitpur district, stepped India through Wagah-Attari border after being released by Pakistan at around 9.20 pm on Friday.
Wing Commander Abhinandan, the hero of the moment, was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday.
Abhinandan had spent his childhood in Tezpur as his father Simhakutty Vartaman served there as the Commanding Officer of Air Force in between 1993 and 1995.
He was given a hero’s welcome at Wagah-Attari border where top officials of the BSF, Indian Air Force (IAF), other security forces, his family members and thousands of fellow Indians were present waving Indian flags.
After stepping in India, Wing Commander Abhinandan said: “I am happy to arrive in India.”
Wing Commander Abhinandan was held by three Pakistani civilians – Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry, Shoaib and Razza, in Hirran village, 7 km from the LOC in Bhimber district of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, as he landed in the area after his MiG 21 was shot during an aerial combat between India and Pakistan on Wednesday morning.
Before his capture, Wing Commander Abhinandan shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 jet.
His father was also posted in Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya.
Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan as a ‘gesture of peace’ two days after his capture.
On Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that Wing Commander Abhinandan would be freed on Friday after India sought his unconditional, immediate and unharmed release.
The Wing Commander was brought to Lahore from Rawalpindi by Pakistani authorities and handed over first to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) under rules of the Geneva Convention and the Indian High Commission following all formalities.