Abhinandan Varthaman Release: The pilot's MiG 21 was shot by Pak during an aerial combat near LoC.
There was happiness and cheer across the county after Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders welcomed the brave pilot, who has become a hero for the entire nation after he showe immense grit and grace while in the enemy's captivity. Wing Commander Varthaman's release had been delayed due to certain reasons
News agency ANI reported that Pakistan has changed the timing of handover twice. New Delhi wanted to bring back captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan by a special flight, but was denied permission. Pakistan has said Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was being released as a "gesture of peace". It is not clear whether the pilot will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan.
IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG 21 was shot during an aerial combat between India and Pakistan on Wednesday morning. He has been in Pakistan since then.
India had rejected Imran Khan's call on Thursday for a dialogue, saying there would be "no deal" on the Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release.
Amid soaring tension, the government demanded the "immediate and safe return" of the pilot and said it "would be well-advised to ensure that no harm comes to him".
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.
Here are the highlights On Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's return to India
For honour of the Nation, you kept duty ahead of your personal safety. Wearing India Colours on your sleeve, you showed calm and poise in adversity. Abhinandan you created history and in you we find the best of the Indian Armed Forces. Bravo AirWarrior, more power to you, the Defence spokesperson tweeted.
President Ram Nath Kovind after Abhinandan Varthaman's return:
Welcome home Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman! India is proud of your courage and sense of duty, and above all your dignity. Wishing you and our entire Air Force every success in the future .
Pakistan Puts Out Abhinandan Varthaman's Video Just Before Releasing Him
Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan when he crossed the Line of Control chasing a Pak F-16 fighter jet, was handed back to Indian authorities tonight and crossed the Attari-Wagah border around 9.20, about three hours after he was reportedly scheduled to return."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Abhinandan Varthaman's return:
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!
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman skipped the long messages and tweeted "Jai Hind" as Abhinandan Varthaman walked into India.
Other leaders on Abhinandan Varthaman's return:
Home Minister Rajnath Singh welcomes Abhinandan Varthaman :
Welcome Home! The entire Nation is proud of Wing Commander Abhinandan.
"Wing Commander Abhinandan, your dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud. Welcome back and much love," Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the pilot's return.
Have not asked Pakistan about reasons for delay, happy to have Abhinandan Varthaman back: Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Deputy Commissioner Amritsar.
IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman at the Attari-Wagah border after being handed ove to India.
Authorities on both the Pakistani and Indian sides have been tight-lipped on the reasons for the delay.
Images of Wing Commander Abhinandan's capture and questioning, circulated from Pakistani accounts, left millions of Indians stricken and worried. The 38-year-old was blind-folded, his eyes bleeding over his handlebar moustache and his hands tied behind his back. A video showed him dragged from a pond, surrounded by locals.
The alarming videos were taken off as Pakistan was accused of violating the Geneva Convention
Cease Fire Violation by Pak in Mendhar, Balakote and Krishna Ghati sectors
Pakistan has resorted to heavy shelling with mortars and firing of small arms along LoC in Mendhar, Balakote and Krishna Ghati Sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively to the provocation.
Varthamans A MiG-21 Family: Son Flies It, Father Flew It
For the Varthamans, flying the MiG-21 fighter aircraft is a sort of family tradition. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman downed a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet before his MiG-21 Bison was hit during a dogfight. His father Air Marshal (retd) Simhakutty Varthaman also flew the MiG-21s and was an Indian Air Force test pilot, who retired five years ago, a family friend said on Friday."
Wing Commander Abhinandan's grandfather was also in the air force, he said.
In an interview to news agency Press Trust of India, Wing Commander (retd) Prakash Navale, who was a course-mate of Wing Commander Abhinandan's father at the National Defence Academy or NDA during 1969-72, said the first time he saw the young pilot was when he was a three-year-old toddler.
Air Vice Marshall RGK Kapoor will make a statement before the media at 5:35 pm.
Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's paperwork will begin at 5:30 pm.
A small crowd, some in it holding the Indian flag, have been waiting for the 35-year-old hero pilot's homecoming after two days in Pakistani captivity.
IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will soon be handed over to the Indian Air Force at Attari-Wagah border.
IAF pilot accompanied by Indian High Commission officials from Islamabad: Report
Quoting its sources, news agency IANS said that Wing Commander Abhinandan was accompanied by Indian High Commission officials from Islamabad. He will enter India after completing formalities at Wagah.
Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman will be received by a team of Indian Air Force.
The Wing Commander's family reached Delhi from Chennai last evening. They were greeted with cheers and claps onboard the flight to Delhi.
It is not clear whether the pilot will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan.
Pakistan violates ceasefire in Nowshera sector
Pakistan army violated ceasefire at Line of Control again. The ceasefire violation was reported in Nowshera sector in Rajouri district at 1615 hours, news agency ANI said.
At the Wagah border, Pakistan army will hand him over to Red Cross officials, who will then hand him over to BSF officials. The air force pilot is expected to be handed over after sunset, at around 6:20 pm, NDTV has learnt.
Just In: Wing Commander Varthaman is being escorted to Wagah border by Pak army
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's family has served the Indian Air Force for generations, since the second World War, news agency PTI said.
PM Modi said today that every Indian was "proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured by Pakistan hails from Tamil Nadu.
Speaking after inaugurating a railway line between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi, Modi added: "I am proud that India's first woman Defence Minister is from Tamil Nadu."
The Indian Air Force pilot is set to be released by Pakistan later in the day
Second high level team of the India Air Force has reached Attari border.
#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan is among the top trends on Twitter India.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is expected to be released around 6 pm, sources have told NDTV. The air force pilot will be released through the Wagah border.
Beating retreat and flag-lowering ceremony at Attari-Wagah border cancelled for today:
Pakistan ignores India's request to return IAF pilot by air
Pakistan has turned down India's request to send a special flight to bring back captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, sources have told NDTV. Pakistan has announced that the pilot, captured on Wednesday by the Pakistani Army after he ejected following an air combat with a Pakistani F-16 fighter, will be released through Wagah later today.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release was announced by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday. But the way the handover will take place has complicated the pilot's return to India.
There were two options - by road through Wagah or on a flight from Islamabad. India, say sources, did not want Abhinandan Varthaman to return to media frenzy at Wagah, especially in the afternoon, when the flag-lowering ceremony draws large crowds.
Sushma Swaraj to speak at Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Abu Dhabi today
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to speak at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi at 1 pm IST today. Ms Swaraj is expected to raise the issue of terrorism, amidst Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has announced that Pakistan will not attend OIC meeting of Foreign Ministers, news agency ANI said.
A special thanks giving prayer was organised today by state Home Guards at Kalikambal Temple in Chennai ahead of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release by Pakistan. (ANI)
Pakistan foreign minister says he won't attend Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meet as India is attending, says news agency Reuters
Air Force officials have reached Wagah border.
A large number of people have assembled at the Attari Joint Check Post (JCP) here on Friday to receive Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman who is likely to be released by Pakistani authorities later in the day.
People started arriving in Attari, around 30 km from Amritsar, since 6 a.m. Their numbers swelled by 9 a.m.
"We have come here to welcome our country's hero back home. We will give him a grand welcome. He showed a lot of bravery in the air combat and even after being captured by the Pakistanis," Jitender, a resident of Amritsar, who arrived in Attari with his friends, said.
Manjit Singh, who was carrying a dhol, said: "Many celebrities and other important people come to Attari border on different occasions. But today, a real hero is coming back. We will give him a a big and warm welcome with dhol and bhangra".
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's parents, Air Marshal S. Varthaman (Retired) and mother Shobha Varthaman, who is a doctor, were cheered by passengers when they boarded a flight from Chennai to New Delhi on Thursday evening. They are on their way to Amritsar to welcome their son back home.
Students pray for a speedy release of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, in a school in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2019. Pakistan said it will release the pilot in a "peace gesture". (AFP)
Parliamentary Committee to discuss Indo-Pak relations today at 2.30 pm
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs is meeting today in Parliament at 2.30 pm to discuss the recent developments in Indo-Pak relations.
The Committee is headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.
There are 30 parliamentarians in the Standing Committee - 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
IAF team to receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Wagah border: Reports
A delegation of IAF team will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Wagah border, as per reports.
It is not clear whether the pilot will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan.
Civilian injured in Pak shelling in Uri
A civilian was injured in overnight shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector, police sources said.
Two residential houses were damaged in the heavy shelling by the Pakistan Army all along the Kamalkote sector and at four other places in Uri since Thursday evening.
Intermittent shelling and firing between the Indian and Pakistani sides have continued in the morning.
Cheers, Claps For Parents Of Air Force Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman On Board Flight To Delhi
The parents of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman are on their way to Amritsar. They arrived in Delhi at 1:30 am from Chennai, and then took a flight to Amritsar.
A delegation of IAF team will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Wagah border, news agency PTI said.
Pakistan said Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman will be released today as a "gesture of peace". The announcement came hours after the US called for immediate de-escalation and President Donald Trump revealed that there would be "reasonably attractive news" from Pakistan and India.