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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, inquires about his detention in Pakistan

 The Defence Minister inquired about the sequence of events that led to his landing and subsequent capture in Pakistan.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, inquires about his detention in Pakistan
Image Courtesy: DD News/Twitter

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was brought to Delhi after he crossed into India through the Attari-Wagah Border check post on Friday.

Sitharaman met the brave IAF officer at a military hospital where he is recovering and undergoing a medical examination.

It is understood that during her meeting with the IAF pilot, the Defence Minister inquired about his health and the sequence of events that led to his landing and subsequent capture in Pakistan.

The Defence Minister also asked him about the treatment given to him by the Pakistanis during his detention.

Wing Commander Abhinandan earlier met Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and briefed him about his detention in Pakistan.

Varthaman, who underwent a medical check-up on Saturday morning at the military hospital, will stay at an Indian Air Force Officers Mess.

He was expected to be debriefed by the IAF on his detention in Pakistan, which is yet to take place.

After a delay of over five hours by Pakistan, Wing Commander Varthaman reached India around 9.20 PM on Friday. 

He was in the custody of the Pakistan Army since Wednesday when his parachute drifted and fell inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Abhinandan, 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 the Pakistani side and was shot down.

Abhinandan ejected safely but was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army upon landing.

Before his plane was shot, he had shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet.

On Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of Varthaman, calling it a “peace gesture”. 

Ahead of that, India used diplomatic and military pressure to ensure that Pakistan releases Varthaman ''unconditionally''.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no compromise on the Pakistani proposal for holding talks and the government instead pressed for his unconditional, safe and urgent release.

India mounted huge pressure on Pakistan through the international community, with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval holding talks with the US and other P-5 countries, the sources said. 

The External Affairs Ministry also reportedly exerted pressure on Pakistan through the Arab world. 

(With Agency inputs)