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‘Proud of Your Exemplary Courage’: PM Modi's Welcome Message for IAF Pilot Abhinandan

Hoping to give a hero's welcome to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, thousands of Indians had gathered at the border carrying tricolours and garlands.

News18.com

Updated:March 1, 2019, 11:23 PM IST
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‘Proud of Your Exemplary Courage’: PM Modi's Welcome Message for IAF Pilot Abhinandan
Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as he is released by Pakistan authorities at Wagah border on the Pakistani side, Friday, March 1, 2019. Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan after his jet went down following a strike by an enemy missile. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: After spending nearly 60 hours in Pakistan captivity, Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian authorities late on Friday evening.

Welcoming the pilot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Varthaman was an inspiration for the country. "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!" PM Modi tweeted.

Hoping to give a hero's welcome to the pilot, thousands of Indians had gathered at the border carrying the tricolour and garlands since morning. But as the day wore on and night fell, there was no sign of the pilot who was captured on February 27 by Pakistan following a dogfight between the two air forces in which his MIG-21 was shot down.

After his release, the Pakistan Foreign Office described him as a Prisoner of War. "While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law," said Pakistan's Foreign Office.

Capturing the mood of the nation, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: "Jai Hind". She soon followed it up with another tweet, saying: "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."

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