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IAF pilot Abhinandan return updates: Airman to be flown to Delhi from Amritsar; Modi tweets 'welcome home'

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IAF pilot Abhinandan return updates: Airman to be flown to Delhi from Amritsar; Modi tweets 'welcome home'
  • 22:14 (IST)

    India glad to have Abhinandan back, says Amit Shah

    BJP national president Amit Shah said, "Dear Wing Commander Abhinandan, entire nation is proud of your courage and valour. India is glad to have you back."

  • 22:06 (IST)

    Welcome home, Modi tells Abhinandan

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. "The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians," he said.

  • 22:01 (IST)

    Recording of Abhinandan's video statement caused delay in handover, say sources
     
    The handing over of pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to India at Wagah was delayed on Friday as he was asked to record a statement on camera by Pakistani authorities before he was allowed to cross the border, according to sources.
     
    It was not clear whether he was made to record the video under duress. The video also had several jump cuts indicating that it had been edited heavily, apparently to fit Pakistani propaganda.
     
    At 8.30 pm (local) time, the Pakistan government released the pilot's video message to the local media in which he said as to how he was captured. "Recording of his video message caused delay in his handing over," a source said.
     
    PTI

  • 21:56 (IST)

    Abhinandan's dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud, says Rahul

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's "dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud". "Welcome back and much love," he wrote.

  • 21:49 (IST)

    Abhinandan an inspiration for all of us: Arvind Kejriwal

    Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted shortly after Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan. "The hero finally walks back. A grateful nation salutes Wing Commander Abhinandan. You are an inspiration for all of us," he wrote.

  • 21:46 (IST)

    Pakistan returns pilot to India, describes him as 'POW'
     
    Pakistan's foreign office on Friday announced the returning of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India, but described him as a "prisoner of war" (POW).
     
    In a statement issued minutes after the pilot crossed over to India from the Wagah-Attari border, the foreign office said, "While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law. The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been returned to India today." It described him as "India POW".

  • 21:44 (IST)

    FirstCut by Manjul

  • 21:36 (IST)

    'Abhinandan said he was happy to be back to his country'

    Speaking to media, Amritsar district-commissioner SS Dhillon said, "He (Abhinandan) was happy to be back and smiling. He said that he was happy to be back to his country." He further said that he will be flown to Delhi from Amritsar in a special plane.

  • 21:34 (IST)

    Abhinandan to now be taken for medical checkup

    In a brief statement, Air Vice-Marshal RGK Kapoor said at Attari-Wagah border, "IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman has just been handed over to us. As per the standard operating procedures, he will now be taken for a detailed medical checkup because he had to eject from an aircraft. IAF is happy to have him back."

  • 21:31 (IST)

    Abhinandan accompanied by defence attache to Indian High Commission in Pakistan

    According to ANI, IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was accompanied by IAF group captain Joy Thomas Kurien, Defence Attache to Indian High Commission in Pakistan.

  • 21:17 (IST)

    Wing commander handed over to Indian authorities

  • 21:07 (IST)

    Pakistani media releases video of Abhinandan saying he is 'impressed' by their army

    “Pakistan Army is very professional service…I see peace in it. I have spent time with the Pakistani Army, I am very impressed,” Geo News quoted Indian pilot Abhinandan as saying in a video prior to his release.

  • 20:48 (IST)

    Abhinandan's handover likely at 9 pm

    Quoting sources, ANI reported that Pakistan has changed the timing of handover of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman twice. Indian defence minister is keeping a close watch on proceedings and the handover might now take place at 9 pm, it reported.

    CNN-News18 reported that the officials who had come to receive Abhinandan Varthaman are still inside the integrated checkpost. 

  • 20:44 (IST)

    Pakistan opens airspace for 4 major airports

    Pakistan on Friday resumed flight operations from four main airports in the country — Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. 

  • 20:15 (IST)

    King Abdullah II calls Imran Khan to convey concern over India-Pakistan tensions

    King Abdullah II of Jordan on Friday made a telephone call to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and “conveyed his concern over the escalating situation between Pakistan and India," Dawn reported.

    Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan briefed Jordan's King Abdullah II about his initiatives to maintain peace between Pakistan and India for the sake of the people of the two countries and the region, the Pakistan prime minister's office said in a statement. 

  • 19:48 (IST)

    'Dosti' bus leaves for New Delhi from Wagah border

    Carrying 16 passengers, the Pakistan-India 'dosti' bus left for New Delhi from Wagah border, ARY News reported on Friday. Following custom and immigration clearance at the border, the passengers departed for India. The bus service operates for three days every week.

  • 19:40 (IST)

    Defence forces to remain on high alert across border despite IAF pilot’s return, say sources
     
    The Indian Defence forces will continue to remain on high alert across the border despite IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's expected return from Pakistan soon, sources said.
     
    The Indian Defence Ministry continues to keep a close watch on the situation along the borders, sources added. To keep an eye on the security scenario, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took a review meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and chiefs of the three services, sources added.
     
    ANI

  • 19:18 (IST)

    Documentation issue delays wing commander's exit to Attari, says report

    According to CNN-News18, an issue with the documents is delaying Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's exit to Attari.

  • 19:03 (IST)

    Toll in Handwara encounter reaches 5, says report

    According to CNN-News18, two CRPF jawans, two police officials, and a civilian have died in the Handwara encounter.

  • 18:49 (IST)

    Pakistan violates ceasefire in Mendhar, Balakote, Krishna Ghati

    ANI reported that Pakistan violated ceasefire along the LoC in Mendhar, Balakote and Krishna Ghati sectors in Jammu and Kashmir at 6 pm.

  • 18:43 (IST)

    Light showers at Attari border

    Light showers at Attari border has forced the crowd, gathered to welcome Abhinandan, to disperse. According to reports, Abhinandan is currently undergoing medical checkup.

  • 18:31 (IST)

    Bollywood welcomes Abhinandan's return

    Ranveer Singh, Boman Irani, Dia Mirza, and Arjun Kapoor were among the Bollywood celebrities who welcomed Abhinandan Varthaman's return on Friday. While Irani wrote, "Like the entire Nation, I would love to say #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan", Kapoor said that the entire nation is "extremely proud" of Varthaman.

  • 18:19 (IST)

    CRPF inspector, policeman killed in Handwara encounter

    A CRPF inspector and a policeman were killed and five other forces personnel were injured in the gunfight at Babagund Langate area of Handwara in the frontier Kupwara district on Friday.

    Official sources said that when a joint search team of police, CRPF and army went to retrieve the militant bodies amid a lull, one of the two militants who were believed to be dead, stood up and fired indiscriminately, injuring the CRPF Inspector, a policeman and five army soldiers who were moved to hospital.

  • 18:15 (IST)

    Convoy on standby to take Abhinandan to airport

    The convoy to take Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from integrated checkpost at the border to the airport is currently on standby. The IAF pilot will be flown to New Delhi from Amritsar.

  • 17:52 (IST)

    Mamata welcomes IAF pilot's return

    West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman back in the country after being in the custody of Pakistan for two days.

  • 17:46 (IST)

    Air Vice Marshal Ravi Kapoor expected to brief media soon

    CNN-News18 reported that a statement is likely to be issued by Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor and that Wing Commander Abhinandan is likely to step out for the media.

  • 17:25 (IST)

    Wing commander handed over to Indian authorities

    CNN-News18 reported that the handover has taken place at the Wagah-Attari border. In the next 30 minutes, he is likely to complete formalities on the Indian side. Reports said that Air Vice Marshal Ravi Kapoor will make a statement before the media at 5:35 pm. 

  • 17:05 (IST)

    'Pakistan turned down India's request to send IAF pilot by air'

    Pakistan has turned down a request by India to send back Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by aerial route and not through the Attari-Wagah land border, official sources said Friday.
     
    They said hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the decision to release Varthaman, India conveyed to Islamabad that he be sent back via the aerial route.
     
    However, late in the night, Pakistan conveyed to India that the pilot will be returned through the Attari-Wagah border and India's request could not be heeded to, the sources said.
     
    PTI

  • 16:57 (IST)

    Islamabad HC dismisses plea to stop release of IAF pilot

    The Islamabad High Court on Friday dismissed a Pakistani citizen's plea to stop the imminent release of the captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinanadan Varthaman.

     
    A Pakistani citizen had filed the petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to stop the imminent release of Varthaman, saying he committed crime against the country and should be put on trial.
     
    PTI
     
     

  • 16:45 (IST)

    Abhinandan reaches Wagah border post

    The visuals of the official handover of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to the Indian authorities is unlikely to be available as media has been barred from accessing the area.

  • 16:38 (IST)

    Formalities complete on Pakistan side of border.

    CNN-News18 reported that the procedure has been completed at the Pakistan side of the border. Wing Commander Abhinandan Vathaman is expected to cross over to India shortly.

  • 16:35 (IST)

    Pakistan violates ceasefire at Nowshera in Jammu and Kashmir

    Pakistan violated ceasefire in Nowshera sector in Rajouri district at 4.15 pm. The Indian Army is currently retaliating, ANI reported.

  • 16:26 (IST)

    Wing commander Abhinandan reaches Wagah border

    Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will soon be handed over to the Indian Air Force at Attari-Wagah border.

  • 16:18 (IST)

    Shah Rukh Khan tweets on Abhinandan's return

    Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan said in a tweet, "There is no better feeling than Coming back Home, for home is the place of love, hope & dreams. Ur bravery makes us stronger. Eternally grateful." (sic)

  • 16:17 (IST)

    Man tries to enter Brar Square; IAF, police jointly interrogate him

    IAF officials from Brar Square, Delhi Cantonment informed the police that a man tried to enter the official premises today morning. IAF and police jointly interrogated him, reported ANI. His medical examination is underway.

  • 16:07 (IST)

    Both air vice marshals likely to receive Abhinandan at border

    Wing Commander Abhinandan will be flown to New Delhi from Amritsar, sources told CNN-News18. Air vice marshals RGK Kapoor and Sreekumar Prabhakaran are expected to receive him at the Wagah border.

  • 16:01 (IST)

    En route Wagah, wing commander reaches Lahore

    The procedure at the border is likely to take a couple of hours for the wing commander to be brought to the Indian side. Reports said that the paperwork is likely to be finish by 5 pm.

  • 15:51 (IST)

    Few parties hating India, suspecting our fight against terror: Narendra Modi

    As India awaits the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Kanyakumari, "Few parties, guided by 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.

    "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 in the radio of Pakistan. I want to ask them, do you support our armed forces or suspect them?"

  • 15:44 (IST)

    India facing terror for long, but not anymore, says Modi 

    In Kanyakumari, Narendra Modi said, "India has been facing terror for a long time, but not anymore. The nation expected the people responsible for terror to be punished but that was never done before. Mumbai attack happened but nothing was done against it. When Uri and Pulwama happened, you saw what our brave soldiers did. There was a time when news reports said that air force wanted to take action, but UPA did not want them to do anything. Now reports say that armed forces have all the power to do what they want. This is 'New India'."

  • 15:40 (IST)

    China welcomes release of IAF pilot

    China on Friday welcomed Pakistan's decision to release the IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman and encouraged the two countries to engage in more counter-terrorism co-operation and dialogue for the regional peace and stability.

     
    Asked how China views Pakistan's decision to release the pilot and whether Beijing played any behind-the-scenes role in it, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters: "Well, from the start China has been calling upon the two sides exercise restraint and take measures to ease tensions, engage in dialogue to resolve the differences".
     
    "I have taken note of the developments. China welcomes the goodwill signals released by the Pakistani side. De-escalation serves the common interests of both the countries. We encourage the two sides to engage in more dialogue for the peace and stability in the region," he said.
     
    PTI

  • 15:38 (IST)

    Nirmala Sitharaman holds security meeting with NSA, service chiefs

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

  • 15:33 (IST)

    Indian police distribute food to Pakistani passengers stranded near Amritsar

    Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that Indian Punjab Police personnel distribute food to Pakistani passengers stranded outside Attari Railway station near Amritsar, following the temporary suspension of the Samjhauta Express rail services. 

  • 15:29 (IST)

    Everybody is proud IAF pilot Abhinandan is from Tamil Nadu, says Modi at poll rally

    Campaigning for Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, "Everyone is proud that brave Wing Commander Abhinandan is from Tamil Nadu... I am proud that India’s first woman Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is from Tamil Nadu."

    This is the first time Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directly spoken about Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman since his capture by Pakistani officials in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on Wednesday after his aircraft was downed.

  • 15:11 (IST)

    What happens after Wing Commander Abhinandan reaches India?

    Once the IAF pilot reaches Indian shores, he will be sent in for a medical examination. A committee of the Indian Air Force will reconstruct the events of the crash to learn what was fired, the frequency and intensity of the firing.

    This is the way the forces will gauge Pakistan’s preparedness. Then, the pilot will be debriefed by multiple agencies – namely the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). He will be made to reconstruct the event. Owing to the news of crowds cheering in the region, there are speculations that he was taken to the army base in Bhimber in PoK.

  • 15:02 (IST)

    Western Air Command Chief retires day after PAF aggression; Pak media reports he was fired

    Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, a decorated officer of the Indian Air Force, retired Thursday on the due date of retirement after completing more than 39 years of service. Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar took over as his successor. 

    However, there were some mischievous reports in Pakistani media that used his pre-scheduled retirement date to insinuate that India removed the senior officer from his post following "Pakistan’s successful strikes and capturing of a pilot on 27 February."

  • 14:53 (IST)

    Heavy security at Wagah border

    Input by By Amit Sharma, 101 Reporters

  • 14:41 (IST)

    Beating the Retreat ceremony cancelled today, but customary lowering of flag to take place 

    CNN-News18 reported that the 30-minute long Beating the Retreat ceremony that takes place every evening at India-Pakistan border at Attari checkpost stands canceled today. However, the customary lowering of flags will take place but the ceremony will not be open to public. 

  • 14:29 (IST)

    BSF orders evacuation at Attari-Wagah border ahead of Abhinandan's return

    The Border Security Force has asked the Punjab Police to make the border ceremony as low key an affair as possible. Following this, the police has removed the crowd from the area and the Beating Retreat ceremony has been closed for the public for today. CNN-News18 reported that this has been done to ensure that the repatriation process of the IAF pilot does not turn into a public spectacle.  

  • 14:06 (IST)

    Islamabad High Court Dismissed Plea Against Abhinandan's Release 

    Dismissing the plea, the Islamabad High Court gave a go-ahead to the repatriation of IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The petitioner said the Indian pilot had violated the airspace of Pakistan to bomb the country and therefore he committed crime against Pakistan and should face trial here. 

  • 14:01 (IST)

    Pakistan rejects India's request to send Abhinandan back by air

    Hours after Pakistan announced its decision to release Abhinandan Varthaman, India conveyed to Islamabad that it wants him to be sent back via aerial route and not through the Wagah land border, official sources told PTI. However, late in the night, Pakistan communicated to India that he will be returned through the Attari-Wagah border.

Abhinandan Varthaman LATEST updates: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah-Attari border on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. "The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians," he said.

In a brief statement, Air Vice-Marshal RGK Kapoor said at Attari-Wagah border, "IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman has just been handed over to us. As per the standard operating procedures, he will now be taken for a detailed medical checkup because he had to eject from an aircraft. IAF is happy to have him back."

Quoting sources, ANI earlier reported that Pakistan has changed the timing of handover of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman twice. Indian defence minister is keeping a close watch on proceedings and the handover might now take place at 9 pm, it reported. According to CNN-News18, an issue with the documents is delaying Varthaman's exit to Attari.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Vathamanhas been officially handed over to the Indian authorities at the Wagah-Attari border. CNN-News18 reported that in the next 30 minutes, he is likely to complete formalities on the Indian side.

The Border Security Force has asked the Punjab Police to make the border ceremony as low key an affair as possible. Following this, the police has removed the crowd from the area and the Beating Retreat ceremony has been closed for the public for today. CNN-News18 reported that this has been done to ensure that the repatriation process of the IAF pilot does not turn into a public spectacle.

IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to Indian High Commission in Islamabad, has left for Lahore. From there he will be brought to the Attari-Wagah border checkpost, from where an IAF team will airlift him to Delhi.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke about the menace of terrorism, however, she stopped short of naming Pakistan. "Terrorism is destroying lives,destabilizing regions and putting the world at great peril. Terror reach is growing and the toll it is taking is increasing," Swaraj said at OIC event.

IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman has been handed over to Indian High Commission in Pakistan, from where he will be brought to the Attari-Wagah border. He is expected to cross over between 3 to 4 pm, Hindustan Times reported.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that he will not attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit. He said: "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."

Latest reports suggest that the IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has left for Lahore from Islamabad. He is expected to reach the Attari-Wagah border around 2 pm.

Scores of people assembled at the Attari Joint Check Post with Indian flags on Friday to receive IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman who is likely to be released by Pakistani authorities later in the day. People started arriving in Attari since 6 am.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting. Earlier he had said that he would boycott the meeting if Swaraj participates.

All arrangements for IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan's release, who was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday, have been finalised, Pakistan government sources have told the state media. He will be accompanied by the Indian air attache to Pakistan, media reported.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman raised patriotic slogans, fired in the air and stuffed his mouth with documents when he landed on Pakistani soil after ejecting from his fighter jet, says the headman of a village on the other side of the border. He was attacked by locals who pelted him with stones and even shot him in the leg, the eyewitness revealed.

Reports have claimed that Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman will cross over to the Indian side around 12 noon at Wagah border. A delegation of IAF team will be there to receive him.

Sources said he was currently in Rawalpindi, from where he would be brought to Lahore, and would be handed over to India at Attari-Wagah border.

Recounting the dramatic events leading to his capture, Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry, the chief of Horran village in Pakistan, told the BBC. Varthaman's first question on landing was whether he was in India, and the villagers tricked him with an affirmative response, leading the pilot to raise patriotic slogans about India.
However, he was in for a shock as the hostile mob turned on him.

Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman downed a F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force by firing an R-73 air-to-air missile before his MiG-21 Bison was hit during a fierce dogfight on Wednesday, official sources said.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and he is unwell. Qureshi said, "He is in Pakistan, according to my information". "He is unwell to the extent that he can't leave his house, because he's really unwell," the foreign minister said.

A delegation of IAF team will on Friday receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan during an aerial combat, at the Wagah border, official sources said.

Varthaman's MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning. He has been in Pakistan since then.

 IAF pilot Abhinandan return updates: Airman to be flown to Delhi from Amritsar; Modi tweets welcome home

Representational image. Reuters

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament on Thursday that Varthaman would be released on Friday as a "peace gesture".

Tensions between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. It came 12 days after the JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.

A team of Indian Air Force officials will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan at the Wagah border on Friday evening, the sources said.

It is not clear whether Varthaman will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan.

India on Wednesday demanded immediate and safe return of the IAF pilot.

"We are happy that our pilot who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in the custody of Pakistan is being released. We are extremely happy to have him back. We only see it as a gesture which is in consonance with the Geneva Conventions," Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, the assistant chief of Air Staff, told a news conference.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has offered to receive Wing Commander Varthaman at the Attari border.

The Congress leader tweeted his request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"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," he wrote.

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Updated Date: Mar 01, 2019 22:42:01 IST