Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Photograph:( ANI )
Wg Cdr Abhinandan was apprehended by the Pakistani Army even as India declared that it won't negotiate his release.
After three days in custody, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the Wagah-Attari border late on Friday night and entered India amid heavy security.
A large crowd had gathered to welcome Wg Cdr Abhinandan home as tensions at the border abated with the appearence of the Air Force pilot on Friday night.
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.
The Indian Air Force(IAF) pilot was shot down when he was involved in a dogfight with Pakistani jets after it entered Indian airspace on Wednesday. Wg Cdr Abhinandan was apprehended by the Pakistani Army even as India declared that it won't negotiate his release.
Amid heightened tensions over the IAF pilot's fate, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced in the National Assembly that his government would be releasing the Air Force pilot.
Abhinandan crossed the Wagah-Attari checkpoint at exactly 9:21 pm on Friday night as both sides sought to de-escalate tensions at the border. On Tuesday, in a predawn strike India's Mirage 2000 fighter jets had taken down JeM terror camps in Balakot in the the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
The next day on Wednesday, Pakistan Air Force(PAF) jets entered Indian airspace as Indian MiG-21 aircrafts engaged the Pak jets, in the ensuring air battle Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG-21 Bison was shot down and it fell inside Pak territory.
Just hours after PM Imran Khan announced the release of Wg Cdr Abhinandan, at a joint armed forces press conference held on Thursday, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor declared that Pakistan had fired the AMRAAM missile from its F-16 fighter jet which was subsequently shot down by Indian MiG-21. The AMRAAM missile debris were presented during the press conference.
"Parts of AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which is carried only on the F-16s in PAF, were recovered east of Rajouri within Indian territory," Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor said.