Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today (Saturday, March 2) met IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman and conveyed to him that the entire nation is proud of him for his courage and determination, officials said.
During the meeting at a medical facility of the Indian Air Force, Varthaman is understood to have explained to Sitharaman details about his nearly 60 hour stay in Pakistan.
Varthaman arrived in the national capital by an IAF flight around 11:45 PM on March 1, nearly two-and-half hours after he crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border.
Currently, he is undergoing medical tests at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialized medical evaluation centre for aircrew of all the three services.
He was captured by Pakistani authorities on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison went down during a fight with Pakistani jets. But before his plane was hit, Varthaman shot down an F-16 of Pakistan air force.
When he crossed over to India on March 1 night, his right eyes above his handlebar moustache appeared swollen.
After he was captured, Varthaman showed courage and grace in the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and others.
Tensions between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday.
Pakistan retaliated the strike by carrying attempting to target Indian military installations on Wednesday. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.
The Indian strike on the JeM camp 12 days after the terror group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.
(With PTI Inputs)