Amarinder Singh steps back from receiving pilot Abhinandan at Attari-Wagah border due to protocol

The Punjab CM said he took the decision to ensure that the defence protocol that is usually followed in such cases, is not violated in any way. 

Amarinder Singh steps back from receiving pilot Abhinandan at Attari-Wagah border due to protocol
File photo

New Delhi: As India awaits return of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wholeheartedly welcomed the IAF wing commander back home while choosing to stay away from the Attari-Wagah border. 

The Punjab CM said he took the decision to ensure that the defence protocol that is usually followed in such cases, is not violated in any way. 

On Thursday evening, Amarinder had appealed to the Narendra Modi government that he would like to receive the IAF pilot upon his return from Pakistan, where he was held being captive, at the Wagah border on Friday. In a tweet, the Punjab CM wrote, "Dear @narendramodi ji , I'm touring the border areas of Punjab & I'm presently in Amritsar. Came to know that @pid_gov has decided to release #AbhinandanVartaman from Wagha. It will be a honour for me to go and receive him, as he and his father are alumnus of the NDA as I am. (sic)"

However, after his offer to the Prime Minister last evening, CM Amarinder said he thought it over and came to the conclusion that it might contravene the protocols laid out for such cases. When any PoW from the 1965 or 1971 war came back, he was first sent for medical examination, followed by a debriefing, which was likely to be the case with Wing Commander Abhinandan too, he noted.

In the circumstances, it would be more proper for him not to go to the Wagah border to receive the officer, said the CM, who has been camping in the border areas for the past three days as part of the confidence-building exercise undertaken by him in the wake of the tensions prevailing at the LoC following the IAF surgical strikes in the aftermath of the deadly Pulwama terror attack.

But the Chief Minister extended a very warm welcome to Abhinandan, saying the whole nation was proud of the way he stood up to questioning by the Pak armed forces during his captivity. "It was top-class and I congratulate him and welcome him back home," Captain Amarinder added.