- The nation is proud of your exemplary courage, PM Modi tweeted
- Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians: PM Modi
- Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India from Pak through Attari border
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman with a tweet on Friday night, shortly after the captured pilot was escorted into India through the Wagah Crossing amid loud cheers from jubilant crowds.
The Indian Air Force pilot returned after nearly 60 hours in Pakistan.
"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!" he 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.
Wing Commander Varthaman, who was taken into custody by Pakistan after his fighter jet crashed in an air encounter between the countries on Wednesday, entered the Indian side at 9.20 pm. An elaborate flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah Crossing -- which draws thousands of spectators on both sides -- was cancelled to restrict the crowds.
After spending hours in wait for the pilot's return, which was apparently delayed due to "procedural and documentation problems", thousands broke into cheers on social media as television channels flashed the first visuals of the captured pilot walking into Indian territory. From President Ram Nath Kovind to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, many posted messages of welcome on Twitter.
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
The President shared a word of praise for Wing Commander Varthaman on the micro-blogging website. "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," he tweeted.
"Welcome Home! The entire Nation is proud of Wing Commander Abhinandan," posted Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh soon after the pilot -- wearing a blue blazer and grey trousers -- joined officials on the Indian side.
BJP president Amit Shah also expressed relief over the return of a person who, over the last two days, had acquired the status of a hero across the country. "Dear Wing Commander Abhinandan, entire nation is proud of your courage and valour. India is glad to have you back. May you continue to serve the nation and IAF with unparalleled passion and dedication. Best wishes for your bright future," he tweeted.
The cheer soon rose to a crescendo, cutting through political and ideological lines. "Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, your dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud. Welcome back and much love," Congress chief Rahul Gandhi posted on the social media website.
Wing Commander Varthaman was captured on Wednesday, when India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial clash for the first time in nearly 50 years. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced his government's decision to free Wing Commander Varthaman yesterday, de-escalating a volatile situation between the two countries that seemed to be going rapidly out of control.