As the nation gears up to welcome Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who arrives late Friday afternoon, parents of the Indian Air Force’s flying pilot, who has been in the custody of Pakistan Army since Wednesday, reached New Delhi Thursday evening. They are on their way to Amritsar to receive their son.
The parents were welcomed by their co-passengers onboard and as their flight landed in New Delhi, instead of rushing to deboard the plane, the fellow passengers, in a gesture of gratitude, waited for the proud parents to deplane first. They cheered, clapped and even gave them a standing ovation.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who is the son of Retd Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, has been in Pakistan Army’s custody after his MiG-21 Bison was hit by ground air defence weapons when he was in the process of thwarting the PAF’s intrusion in the Indian airspace. Retracting from its earlier statement that two Indian pilots were in its custody, Pakistan Army later said that only one IAF pilot was captured by its forces.
On Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Abhinandan will be released Friday as a “peace gesture”. The announcement, made during a joint session of Parliament in Pakistan, is being seen as first signs of de-escalation of tension between the two nations.