Defence Minister, Air Chief meet Abhinandan

New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Saturday met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, a day after he returned from Pakistan.

Varthaman was medically examined particularly considering that he had ejected after his MiG 21 was shot down in the PoK air space while chasing Pakistani fighter planes which had transgressed into Indian air space on February 27.

During a separate meeting with the Air Chief, Varthaman is believed to have briefed him about his detention in Pakistan, officials said.

Varthaman was expected to be debriefed by the IAF on his detention in Pakistan, which is yet to take place.

After a delay of over five hours by Pakistan, Wing Commander Varthaman reached India at 9.20 pm on Friday. He was in the custody of the Pakistan Army since Wednesday when his parachute drifted and fell inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Abhinandan, flying the MiG 21 Bison, was chasing Pakistani F-16 fighters which had transgressed into the Indian airspace, and in the process, his plane crossed over to the Pakistani side and was shot down.

Abhinandan ejected safely but was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army upon landing.
Before his plane was shot, he had hit a Pakistani F-16.

On Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of Varthaman, calling it a “peace gesture”.

India used diplomatic and military pressure to ensure that Pakistan releases Varthaman unconditionally, top sources in New Delhi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no compromises on the Pakistani proposal for holding talks, the sources added.

India mounted pressure on Pakistan through the international community, with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval holding talks with the US and other P-5 countries, the sources said. The External Affairs Ministry also exerted pressure on Pakistan through the Arab world, they said.