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Wing Commander Abhinandan undergoing 'cooling down' process, is met by Nirmala Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Delhi's Air Force Central Medical Establishment. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 02, 2019, 05.38 PM (IST)

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Saturday. 

Abhinandan was released from Pakistani custody on Friday night and has since then been kept at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment in Delhi. 

Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistanis on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison was shot down during a dogfight with Pakistani jets; he was however able to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before that. 

The news agency PTI quoted officials as saying Abhinandan is currently undergoing a series of medical tests as part of a "cooling down" process which is expected to continue till Sunday. Once, the health check up is over, the officials said, Abhinandan will be debriefed. 

Abhinandan arrived in the national capital around 11:45 PM Friday and soon after was taken to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialised medical evaluation centre for aircrew of all the three services.

Early Saturday morning, Varthaman met immediate family members as well as several top officials of the Indian Air Force, the officials said.

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Videos that appeared on social media after Abhinandan's capture showed him being beaten by Pakistani villagers before he was rescued by Pakistani army personnel. When he crossed over to India Friday night, Abhinandan's right eye above his handlebar moustache appeared swollen. 

Ex-servicemen and strategic affairs experts have said the courage and grace Abhinandan showed while in captivity were exemplary. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Abhinandan's return, saying the nation is proud of his courage.

"Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians," Modi tweeted Friday night. 

Tensions between the India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near the town of Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. 

Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations on Wednesday. 

The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir which killed at least 40 soldiers

(With inputs from PTI)
 

Story highlights

Abhinandan was released from Pakistani custody on Friday night and has since then been kept at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment in Delhi.