After two days of captivity in Pakistan, IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman stepped on Indian soil to be welcomed by swells of crowd at the Wagah Attari Joint Check Post (JCP) as the Pakistani authorities.

The 35-year-old Wing Commander named Abhinandan Varthaman hails all the way from Chennai of Tamil Nadu, and is the son of veteran Air Marshal S Varthaman and Shobha Varthaman. He has been deployed at the LoC under Indian Air Force since January 2019. The IAF pilot was flying the MiG-21 Bison while chasing the Pakistani F-16 jets that had entered in Indian airspace on February 27. He had downed a Pakistani jet during the dogfight, but hit plane was hit by another F-16, forcing Varthaman to eject before the crash and landed in PoK region to be captured by Pak forces.

On Thursday, Pakistan announced that the IAF pilot in their captivity will be released on Friday, March 1 as a peace gesture to deescalate the tension between two nations. Huge number of people, officers and media had arrived to the Wagah Attari Joint Check Post, to be the part of the historic event. After all, the last IAF pilot to return from Pakistan after Flight Lt Kambampati Nachiketa, who was released after eight days of captivity in 1999.

As per protocols, Pakistani rangers sent the Indian pilot to Indian side and after recognition and paperwork from India, he was taken to the integrated check post immediately. After a jubilant welcome from people waiting to welcome the pilot with tricolour flags, flowers, dhol and bhangra – the returned commander was taken for a medial test, an emotional test and then for official debrief in a convoy of police and pilot vehicles. In the session hosted by Indian Air Force officials and the intelligence wing of the military, Varthaman will brief his seniors about the entire course of events after he crashed into the Pakistani territory.