The car transferring Abhinandan Varthaman is pictured near Wagah border. Danish Siddiqui/ REUTERS
Attari: IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistanis two days ago after his MiG-21 crashed in Pakistani territory, returned to India on Friday night.
Dressed in a blue coat, grey trousers and white shirt, he was received warmly by senior Border Security Force (BSF) officers at Zero Line that marks the India-Pakistan land border.
After the Pakistan Rangers escorted him till the border gates, one BSF officer put his arm around the Indian Air Force officer and led him away, apparently for handing him over to the IAF officials.
The air force officer looked calm as he waited for a while close to the border in Pakistani territory along with Indian High Commission officials from Islamabad and Pakistan Rangers before getting the final okay for him to cross over to India.
An Indian man watches live news channels broadcasting images of Abhinandan Varthaman.
Prakash Singh/ AFP
The capture of Wg Cdr Abhinandan on Wednesday in Pakistani-administered Kashmir led to strong demands from New Delhi that he be handed over to India immediately and unharmed.
The parents of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman were given a standing ovation when they de-boarded an IndiGo Chennai-New Delhi flight here.
Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman reached the Pakistani side of the border on Friday evening from Lahore ahead of his release from Pakistani captivity.
Informed sources said that Abhinandan was accompanied by Indian High Commission officials from Islamabad. He will enter India after completing formalities at Wagah.
Refugees eat at a community relief camp after hundreds flee their home at Chhajla village. Sajjad Hussain/ AFP
Thousands bid an emotional farewell to IAF pilot, Squadron Leader Ninad Mandavgane, who was cremated with full military honours here on Friday, officials said. Mandavgane, the pilot of a MI-17 V5 helicopter, was one of the six airmen killed after the chopper crashed in Jammu and Kashmir's Badgam district on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Friday that every Indian was "proud that the brave" Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was taken captive by Pakistan hails from Tamil Nadu.
Speaking after laying the foundation stone of a railway line between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi, Modi added: "I am proud that India's first woman Defence Minister is from Tamil Nadu."
The Retreat Ceremony at the Attari-Wagah joint checkpost between India and Pakistan was cancelled for Friday by the Border Security Force (BSF) as IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is set to return from Pakistan in the evening.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon told the media at the checkpost that the BSF had cancelled the event due to security reasons.