MoS Defence Subhash Bhamre meets Wg Cdr Abhinandan

New Delhi: Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre on Sunday met Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi Cantonment after the pilot returned from Pakistan.

Bhamre met Abhinandan a day after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa met the IAF pilot.

As per the latest health report of Abhinandan, no bugs have been found implanted in the pilot during an MRI scan, a source said on Sunday. The security agencies were understood to have been checking for any bugs which could be present in Abhinandan.

The scan also showed an injury in his lower spine which could have happened following his ejection from the MiG-21 fighter plane after a dogfight with Pakistani F-16 jets on Wednesday, the source said.

He also has a rib injury due to an assault by the Pakistani locals soon after he landed on the ground in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after his aircraft was shot down.

Varthaman will undergo more check-ups and treatment at the Research and Referral Hospital for the next 10 days, the source said.

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

After a delay of over five hours by Pakistan, Abhinandan reached India at around 9.20 pm on March 1. He was in the custody of the Pakistan Army since March 27 when his parachute drifted and fell inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Abhinandan, flying the MiG 21 Bison, was chasing Pakistani F-16 fighters which had transgressed into the Indian airspace. In the process, his plane crossed over to the Pakistani side and was shot down. Although he ejected safely, the pilot was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army upon landing.
On February 28, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of Abhinandan, calling it a “peace gesture”.

India used diplomatic and military pressure to ensure that Pakistan releases Abhinandan 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.