IAF pilot Abhinandan crosses border to enter India

IAF pilot Abhinandan crosses border to enter India

He received a hero's welcome.

By Web Report

Published: Fri 1 Mar 2019, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 2 Mar 2019, 8:33 AM

Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan finally stepped foot on Indian soil on late Friday evening.
Abhinandan had been captured in Pakistan after his plane was shot down by the PAF.
Earlier today, conflicting reports in Indian media suggested that he had been handed over to Indian authorities around 5 pm. Later on, it was revealed that the handing over of the pilot has been delayed due to procedural issues.
He was received by the Border Security Force (BSF) officials during the handover.
Pakistan released the Indian pilot who was captured after an IAF plane was shot down in its territory.
Abhinandan was handed over to the Indian High Commission in Pakistan. From there he was brought to the Attari-Wagah border. 
The Border Security Force (BSF) had cancelled its flag-lowering and retreat ceremony at the border in view of the IAF pilot's return.
Varthaman's release comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement on Thursday regarding his "desire of peace" and "as a first step to open negotiations" with India. 
Khaleej Times' comprehensive 24-hour coverage brought you the latest news on Thursday's blog. We continue our live updates:







Last minute paperwork delays Abhinandan's return to India. News 18, citing local officials said he may be returned to India at 9pm local time (7:30pm UAE).


There have been conflicting reports over Abhinandan's return to India.


According to dawn.com Abhinandan's return has been stalled due to some 'procedural delays'. Indian outlet Firstpost cites an issue with documents as the reason for the delay.


"A reprieve, a relief Abhinandan Varthaman as he steps in his home turf. Long live peace. Let's grow together for the welfare of human kind. Peace is dearest to God," All India Radio tweeted after the return of the pilot.


Wing Commander Abhinandan 'may' step out for the media and a statement likely to be issued by AVM RGK Kapoor.


IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman handed over to India, News18 reports. 


Pakistani media says IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is undergoing a medical test at the Wagah border, reports News18
Teams of International Committee of Red Cross officials are present on both sides of the border. Abhinanadan is expected to undergo medical examination after he crosses the border.


India has reportedly cancelled the flag-lowering ceremony on the Wagah border.


Indian high commission officials are also present at the Wagah Border with Abhinandan Varthaman.


People and media gather before the arrival of captured Indian Air Force pilot near Wagah border, on the outskirts of the northern city of Amritsar, India.


Visuals from Attari-Wagah border; Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be received by a team of Indian Air Force.


IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman has reached the Wagah border in Pakistan, News 18 reported. He will be taken to Attari on the Indian side to be returned to the IAF.  


China on Friday welcomed Pakistan's decision to release the Indian Air Force pilot and encouraged the two countries to engage in more counter terrorism cooperation 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 countries. We encourage the two sides to engage in more dialogue for the peace and stability in the region," he said.


PM Narendra Modi in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu: Every Indian is proud that the brave Wing Commander #Abhinanadan is from Tamil Nadu. 


Civilians who had gathered at Attari-Wagah border to receive IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman have been turned back, News 18 reported.   
The Border Security Force has asked the Punjab police to keep the border ceremony as low key an affair as possible.  


The  Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that Pakistan will reopen its airspace with restrictions. Flight operations to and from Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi will resume under restricted airspace.  


Indian authorities have been informed that Indian Air Force officer, Abhinandan will be released at around 3pm (IST).  


Indian Air Attaché Group Captain J.T. Krain has left for Lahore with travel documents of the pilot, acccording to Dawn.




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




Scores of people assembled at the Attari Joint Check Post (JCP) 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 Sikh holy city of Amritsar, since 6 am. Their numbers swelled by 9am. 
"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 here with his friends, said.  


Captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman will be handed over by Pakistani authorities at Wagah Border in Lahore today.  
All arrangements for the pilot's release have been finalised. He will be accompanied by the Indian air attache to Pakistan, Tribune quoted security sources.  


The Ministry of Haj and Umrah is hosting around 3,000 Pakistani pilgrims who are stranded after the airspace shutdown this week.
2,000 Pakistani pilgrims are stationed in hotels in Makkah while another 1,000 were housed in Madinah.
The pilgrims can stay till the airspace opens up and they can fly back to Pakistan.  


Pakistan airspace closure leads to an increase in train passengers. With Pakistan's airspace closed amid heightened tension between Islamabad and New Delhi, many passengers turned to the Pakistan Railways to make their trips to Karachi, Lahore and other parts of the country, the media reported on Friday.

The development comes amid the two-day closure of the Pakistani airspace. 
The Railways Rawalpindi division received a higher number of passengers in the last two days as a result, forcing the management to arrange more coaches for Karachi-bound trains to cater to demand.  


Indian pilot Abhinandan will be received by Indian Armed Forces at Wagah around noon, media reports said. 
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday welcomed Pakistan's offer to release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured when his MiG-21 went down in Pakistan-occupied territory. 
His Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters: "The report of the release of the Indian pilot by the Pakistani authorities would be very much a welcome step. We would encourage both parties to do whatever they can to de-escalate the situation."

Guterres has been in contact "with both sides at various levels", Dujarric said, while declining to identify the contacts.

Dujarric added that de-escalating tensions "is the message that has been passed on by the United Nations and, I think, by the international community as a whole".

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