Live: Emotional scenes at Attari as Wing Commander Abhinandan comes home

An entire nation saluted a valiant Abhinandan Varthaman upon his return from Pakistani captivity.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Friday, March 1, 2019 - 23:43
Courtesy: PTV News (Sourced from ANI)

NEW DELHI: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan on Friday even as Pakistan stooped down to play the delay tactic.

India had mounted massive pressure on Imran Khan for the release of the IAF pilot. There were scenes of absolute jubilation at the Attari border even before the IAF pilot had officially crossed over.

Security at the border was extremely tight as the Abhinandan was received on the Indian side by top Indian Air Force officials. Among the many who had gathered to welcome the valiant hero were his parents.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Thursday announced that the captive pilot will be released as a gesture of peace. The 'goodwill gesture' came largely due to the position India took throughout the day to bring its pilot back home and maintained no deals would be made with Pakistan. India also slammed the neighbour nation for violating terms of the Geneva Convention by displaying vulgar images of the injured IAF personnel.

Pakistan detained the IAF personnel Wednesday following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two nations along the Line of Control. Varthaman downed a F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force by firing an R-73 air-to-air missile before his jet, a MiG 21 bison, was hit by an enemy missile, the sources said.

Here is what happened on Friday (March 1):

1 March 2019, 22:27 PM

Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. Vande Mataram!

-- Prime Minister Narendra Modi

1 March 2019, 21:35 PM

"Good to be back in my country. I am fine."

Abhinandan's first words after crossing the border, according to an IAF official at Attari.

1 March 2019, 21:32 PM

Abhinandan accompanied by IAF Group Captain Joy Thomas Kurien, Defence Attache to Indian High Commission in Pakistan.

He has been taken to a waiting car in a convoy which will now head to Amritsar. He will then leave for Delhi.

1 March 2019, 21:26 PM

Abhinandan gets a hug from Indian security officials as he walks into India. Pakistan shuts its gate. Absolutely emotional scenes at Attari.

1 March 2019, 21:19 PM

Abhinandan is accompanied by his wife.

1 March 2019, 21:18 PM

Pakistan stoops to new low, turns handover of Abhinandan into a PR exercise.

1 March 2019, 21:09 PM

Wing Commander Abhinandan handed to Indian High Commission officials

1 March 2019, 20:48 PM

ANI quoting sources: Pakistan has changed the time of handover twice. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman keeping a close watch on the situation.

1 March 2019, 20:14 PM

Reports from Attari-Wagah border suggest that Pakistani authorities have not cleared all the paperwork for the official handover of Abhinandan. There is a suspicion that Pakistani authorities want maximum media spotlight on the release and is, therefore, using the delaying tactics.

1 March 2019, 18:48 PM

Abhinandan may have crossed the border and is on Indian soil but his medical checkups are causing a delay in transferring him to Amritsar.

1 March 2019, 18:46 PM

One CRPF personnel has been martyred in an ongoing encounter with terrorists in J&K's Kupwara. Three others are injured.

1 March 2019, 18:08 PM

Wing Commander Abhinandan currently on Indian soil, clearing customs, immigration formalities.

1 March 2019, 17:53 PM

Pakistan's Beating Retreat ceremony currently underway.

1 March 2019, 17:25 PM

Abhinandan has been handed over to Indian authorities by Pakistan.

1 March 2019, 17:15 PM

Formalities from Pakistan side for the release of Abhinandan are over.

1 March 2019, 17:13 PM

A team of Indian Air Force personnel will receive Abhinandan.

1 March 2019, 16:19 PM

Abhinandan reaches Wagah border, will cross over to India shortly.

1 March 2019, 15:52 PM

These are the same people whose statements are helping Pakistan and harming India. They are the same people whose statements are being happily quoted in Parliament of Pakistan and the radio of Pakistan. I want to ask them- do you support our armed forces or suspect them, asks PM Modi.

1 March 2019, 15:51 PM

A few parties, guided by Modi hatred have started hating India. No wonder, while the entire nation supports our armed forces, they suspect the armed forces. The world is supporting India’s fight against terror but a few parties suspect our fight against terror, says PM in Tamil Nadu

1 March 2019, 15:45 PM

26/11 happened, India expected action against terrorists but nothing happened. When Uri and Pulwama happened, you saw what our brave soldiers did. I salute those who are serving the nation, says PM Modi in Kanyakumari.


1 March 2019, 15:43 PM

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a security review meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the three services chiefs, reports ANI.

1 March 2019, 15:36 PM

China on Friday welcomed Pakistan's decision to release IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and encouraged the two countries to engage in more counter-terrorism cooperation and dialogue for regional peace and stability, say reports.

1 March 2019, 15:35 PM

Air Canada resumes flight services to India after a temporary suspension of operations in the wake of India-Pakistan tension, say reports.

1 March 2019, 15:30 PM

A huge crowd has gathered at the Wagah-Attari border to welcome Wing Commander Abhinandan, who is expected to arrive here anytime. 

1 March 2019, 15:21 PM

I have flagged off the fastest train Tejas between Madurai-Chennai and the train is a great example of 'Make in India,' having been manufactured in the Integral Coach factory of Chennai itself: PM Modi

1 March 2019, 15:20 PM

I am proud that India’s first woman Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is from Tamil Nadu, says PM Modi.

1 March 2019, 15:17 PM

PM Modi addresses rally in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari, says every Indian is proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinanadan is from this state.


1 March 2019, 15:11 PM

After three days of being in captivity, Abhinandan Varthaman will be handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah-Attari border. 

He will be taken to Amritsar air base from where he will fly to Delhi's Palam Technical area. 

1 March 2019, 14:50 PM

Following the air strikes by Pakistan, the chiefs of Indian Air Force and Indian Navy will be given Z+ security cover, sources in Delhi Police told Zee Media.

1 March 2019, 14:25 PM

The Beating the Retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah Border will not be held today. 

"The Beating the Retreat ceremony will not be held today. Senior team of the Indian Air Force will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman," Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Amritsar, told ANI.


1 March 2019, 14:04 PM

India had requested to bring back Abhinandan by flight but Pakistan refused to agree: Sources tell Zee News

1 March 2019, 13:53 PM

"I come from land of Mahatma Gandhi, where every prayer ends with the call for Shanti or Peace for all," Swaraj's concluding statements at OIC.

1 March 2019, 13:38 PM

EAM Sushma Swaraj at OIC conclave: If we want to save humanity, we must tell the states who provide shelter and funding to terrorists, to dismantle the infrastructure of the terrorist camps and stop providing shelter and funding to the terror organisations based in that country.


1 March 2019, 13:36 PM

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) president Asif Ali Zardari slammed fellow politician and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for failing to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Not attending the meeting is not the solution,” Zardari said in the joint session of Pakistan Parliament. “I suggest the foreign minister attend the OIC meeting. He should go there and talk.”

1 March 2019, 13:27 PM

As Sushma Swaraj addresses OIC meet, laying focus on terrorism, Pakistan chair remains empty: Tap to read

1 March 2019, 13:23 PM

This is not a clash of civilisations or cultures, but a contest of ideas and ideals. As PM Modi has often said, it is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity: Swaraj

1 March 2019, 13:22 PM

India has always embraced and found it easy to embrace pluralism since it is embedded in the oldest Sanskrit religious text “The Rig Veda” and I quote "एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति", which means “God is One but learned men describe Him in many ways": Swaraj.

1 March 2019, 13:15 PM

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman left from Islamabad around 12 pm. He's expected to reach Wagah-Attari border in next two to three hours to reach, around 3 pm. He is accompanied by defence attache and Pakistan diplomats, sources tell Zee News. Before handing over to India, Varthaman's medical tests will be conducted. 

He will immediately be shifted to Delhi for debriefing.

1 March 2019, 13:12 PM

India shares much with you.  Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom and the bright ray of hope at the same time. 
We have stood together in solidarity, in our quest for justice and dignity: Swaraj

1 March 2019, 13:09 PM

In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement, or has been so transformed, as India’s relationship with #UAE and, indeed,  with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region. In a sense, it is a return of history.: Swaraj

1 March 2019, 13:08 PM

I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself: Sushma Swaraj at OIC conclave


1 March 2019, 12:46 PM

"Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will cross the border today, can't tell you exact time since there are certain formalities. A senior Indian Air force team from Delhi is here, they will be the ones to receive him," said Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Amritsar.

1 March 2019, 12:44 PM

Hundreds of people flocked the Attari border Friday to catch a glimpse of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who is expected to touch home soil after his release from Pakistan. 

1 March 2019, 12:42 PM

EAM Sushma Swaraj will address the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation at 1 pm. 

1 March 2019, 12:31 PM

Wing Commander Abhinandan's parents - Air Marshal (retd) S Varthaman and Dr Shobha Varthaman - were given a standing ovation as passengers made way for them in the early hours of Friday, ensuring that they couple gets off first. Read here.


1 March 2019, 12:05 PM

Several people come together at Attari-Wagah border to welcome Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman home. 

1 March 2019, 11:58 AM

As tension escalated between with India, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he won't be attending Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

"I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj," says Qureshi. 

Read more

1 March 2019, 11:56 AM

The rising tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack and the Indian airstrikes and thereafter are unlikely to have an impact on the discussions over the Kartarpur corridor, sources said on Friday. India has confirmed that officials from both the countries are meeting to decide on the modalities of Kartarpur corridor. "It concerns the sentiments of a community, we welcome Pakistani delegation for the talks," sources told Zee media.  Read more

1 March 2019, 11:49 AM

BJP President Amit Shah Friday said creating a situation for the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan was a diplomatic victory, ahead of the expected arrival of the captured pilot.

1 March 2019, 11:38 AM

6 Jamaat-e-Islami activists were detained by the police during fresh raids in various villages of Tral in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Friday.