- PM Modi had welcomed the Wing Commander back with a tweet
- "The nation is proud of your exemplary courage," PM Modi said
- Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was in Pakistan captivity
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, praising the courage and valour of the captured Indian Air Force pilot who returned to India from Pakistan, today said the word "Abhinandan" used to mean welcome, but its meaning would change now.
"The world takes note of what India does... India has the strength to change the meaning of words in the dictionary... Abhinandan once used to mean welcome. And now the meaning of Abhinandan will change", PM Modi said this morning in Delhi, in an apparent reference to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
The 35-year-old Air Force pilot was shot down on Wednesday while flying a MiG-21 fighter in a dogfight with Pakistani aircraft and captured. His first words when he walked across from the Pakistani side through the Attari-Wagah border were, "It is good to be back in my country", an official told reporters last night.
PM Modi had welcomed the Wing Commander back with a tweet last night. "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!" the PM had tweeted.
Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan!- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 1, 2019
The nation is proud of your exemplary courage.
Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's announcement that he would be released as a "peace gesture" signaled a thaw after rapid escalation this week. The announcement marked a dramatic shift in mood after the two countries engaged in an aerial clash for the first time in nearly 50 years on Wednesday.
The confrontation erupted after the February 14 Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, in which over 40 soldiers were killed. India's air strikes on Tuesday targeted a huge Jaish training facility in Pakistan's Balakot, around 80 km from the Line of Control.