Pakistan released Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to Indian authorities on Friday, as a ‘gesture of peace’ as promised by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Dressy in a navy blue coat and white pants, the IAF pilot looked visibly relaxed as he was handed over to the Indian border security personnel by Pakistan Rangers.
The exchange of the Prisoner of War took place at Wagah border in Lahore as thousands of Indians cheered on after Abhinandan was in the custody of the Indian personnel.
The exchange took place after a little delay.
Abhinandan Varthanan was captured on Wednesday by Pakistan Army personnel after he ventured into Pakistani airspace in his MiG Bison fighter jet.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets shot down two Indian Air Force (AIF) aircraft on Wednesday as retaliation for Indian planes intruding into Pakistani airspace and dropping payload.
Immediately after he was handed over to the Indian authorities, Amritsar DC Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said that Abhinandan was being taken care of by the Indian Air Force.
“The Indian Air Force personnel said that they were happy that Abhinandan had returned to his country,” he said. “He will be taken for a medical checkup now. He says he is happy to be back in India.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced in a speech on Thursday that Abhinandan would be returned to India as a ‘peace gesture’ after tensions escalated between the two nuclear-armed neighbours on Wednesday.