Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India by Pakistan on Friday night, at a hospital in New Delhi. Varthaman, who was brought to Delhi after Pakistan released him through the Attari-Wagah border, underwent a series of medical tests as part of a "cooling down" process, officials said. Early Saturday morning, Varthaman met his immediate family members as well as several top officials of the Indian Air Force, they said.
Varthaman arrived in the national capital around 11:45 PM Friday and soon after he was taken to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialised 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 dogfight with Pakistani jets. But before his plane was hit, Varthaman shot down an F-16 of Pakistan air force.
Wing Commander Varthaman is undergoing a series of medical tests as part of the "cooling down" process and it is expected to continue till Sunday. Once, the health check-up phase is over, debriefing sessions will be arranged for him, the officials said.
When he crossed over to India Friday night, his right eye 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.
A video circulated on social media that he was badly beaten up by a group of people after being rescued by Pakistani security personnel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the return of Varthaman, saying the nation is proud of his exemplary courage.
"Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians," tweeted Modi Friday night.