Wagah-Attari Border, Mar 1: After a long wait that stretched for quite a few hours, IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returned home on Friday via Wagah-Attari Border from Pakistan.
Senior Indian Army and Air Force officers were present at the border to receive the pilot, when Pakistan handed him over to the Indian authorities, after completing the long and tedious formalities.
Crowds had been waiting at this check post to warmly receive the Indian pilot and accord him a hero's welcome.
The Indian pilot's MiG-21 Bison fighter had fallen across the Line of Control in Pak-Occuppied Kashmir (PoK) on February 27, when he was engaged in a dogfight with an intruding Pakistani F-16 fighter jet.
He was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army.
Later, India said that a MiG 21 Bison fighter was lost and the pilot was missing in action. His video in captivity while being interrogated by Pakistan Army officers was also released by Islamabad.
There was a large number of security personnel at border, including Army medical team.
A large number of people thronged at the Border with Indian flags and raised slogans of Vande Mataram and burst crackers.
Flag-lowering ceremony, popularly known as retreat, for the evening was also cancelled at Wagah Border.
While addressing joint session of Pakistan's National Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Thursday announced that the Indian fighter pilot, in the custody of Pakistan army, would be freed on Friday as a 'peace gesture'. (UNI)