IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman reaches India

Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has arrived in his home country, India, via the Attari-Wagah border. 

Abhinandan returns home

Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman arrived in his home country, India, via the Attari-Wagah border. 

On Thursday, Imran Khan had told the Pakistan National Assembly that the government would be releasing the IAF pilot.

(Image source: IANS)

(Photograph:ANI)

Abhinandan awaits clearance

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Wagah border awaits clearance to cross over to India. 

(Image source: IANS)

(Photograph:ANI)

Abhinandan with Indian officials

At exactly 9:21 pm, after several hours wait, IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed over to India and shook hands with Indian officials at the Wagah border. 

(Image source: ANI)

(Photograph:ANI)

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman

Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by Pakistan after his jet went down following a dogfight in the air. 

Varthaman bailed out after his MiG-21 was hit on Wednesday morning. 

He was immediately taken into custody by the Pakistan Army.

(Photograph:PTI)

Celebrations at Wagah border

Earlier today, amid tight security, people in huge numbers from across India gathered at the border to welcome Wg Cdr Abhinandan. 

India had earlier put up a definite stand on Varthaman's return, stating that there will be "no deal" on the issue. 

International pressure also mounted on the Pak government to return the IAF pilot to India.

(Image source: AFP)

(Photograph:AFP)

Police near Indo-Pak border in Wagah

Indian police stand guard near the India-Pakistan border in Wagah. 

India had earlier said it won't be involved in any bargain to get the pilot back even as Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the Pakistani media that the government would be willing to hand over the Indian pilot if India promised to "de-escalate" the situation. 

(Image source: AFP)

(Photograph:AFP)

Abhinandan released by Pakistan

Abhinandan has been released after Pakistan communicated to India that he will be returned through the Attari-Wagah border. 

Earlier, tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's(JeM) biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Monday. 

It came 12 days after 40 CRPF personnel were killed when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14th. 

Following the bombing of the JeM training camp, the Pakistan Air Force carried out retaliatory aerial combat, unsuccessfully targeting Indian military installations.

(Image source: AFP)

(Photograph:AFP)

'There is more to be done by Pakistan'

The security at the Wagah border was on high alert throughout the day. 

On Varthaman's return, Minister of state for external affairs, VK Singh said: "Happy that Abhinandan is being released by Pakistan." 

"We are also happy that Pak feels it as a peace gesture, but there is more to be done by Pakistan. It has to do efforts to make good environment between the two nations," VK Singh added.

(Image source: AFP)

(Photograph:AFP)

Beating the Retreat ceremony called off today

The daily Beating the Retreat ceremony held at the Attari-Wagah border was "cancelled" on Friday, the Border Security Force (BSF) said.

A senior official of the force said the ceremony was called off due to administrative requirements in the wake of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release at this frontier.

BSF said the decision was taken in view of "military requirements".

The BSF conducts the ceremony in coordination with their cross-border counterparts Pak Rangers. It involves lowering of the flags of the two countries along with foot stomping manoeuvres by the troops.

(Photograph:AFP)