NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday welcomed IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman after he was handed over by Pakistan to the Indian authorities at the Wagah Border check post on Friday.
Welcoming the IAF braveheart, the PM said in a tweet that the entire nation is proud of his exemplary courage.
The PM also lauded the country's armed forces and called them ''an inspiration for 130 crore Indians.''
Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan!
The nation is proud of your exemplary courage.
Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 1, 2019
Meanwhile, commenting on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's safe return to India from Pakistan's custody, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the nation was proud of the brave officer.
"Proud of you Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth. Salute. Vande Mataram," Sitharaman tweeted.
Proud of you Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth. Salute. Vande Mataram.
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) March 1, 2019
Varthaman was captured by the Pakistan Army on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison was shot down during a dogfight and he ejected.
He landed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir across the Line of Control (LoC) where he was manhandled by local villagers.
He was later rescued and taken into custody by the Pakistan Army.
On February 28, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament that Varthaman would be handed over to India on Friday.
The fighter pilot was handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah-Atari border in Punjab on Friday night.
Dressed in a blue coat, grey trousers and white shirt, he was received by senior Border Security Force officers at 9.21 PM. at the Zero Line that marks the India-Pakistan land border.