Pakistan handed over IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman through Wagah Border on Friday. While speaking in Parliament, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that they would release captive Indian Air Force pilot on Friday as a 'big peace gesture'. Khan's surprise announcement to a joint session of Parliament, that Varthaman will be released Friday, was greeted by loud thumping of desks by the lawmakers. Earlier, his foreign minister said Khan was also willing to talk to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the phone to talk peace.
Here are the LIVE updates:
12.12 pm: Aircraft carrying IAF wing Commander Abhinandan reaches Palam Airport.
11.29 pm: Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan to reach Delhi's Palam airport shortly.
10: 20 pm
10:06 pm: "Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan," tweets PM Modi.
Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 1, 2019
The nation is proud of your exemplary courage.
Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians.
9:50 pm: Proud of you Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, tweets Nirmala Sitharaman
Proud of you Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth. Salute. Vande Mataram.— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) March 1, 2019
9:47 pm: Proud of your courage Wing Commander Abhinandan! Welcome back home. Abhinandan to you. Jai Hind Bharat Mata Ki Jai, writes Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
9:46 pm: Welcome back soldier. You have made us all very proud. I salute your valor, courage, conviction, calmness and selflessness, tweets VK Singh
9:45 pm: Air Commander handed over to us as per standard procedures, he will now be taken for a medical check up: IAF.
Welcome Home! The entire Nation is proud of Wing Commander Abhinandan.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) March 1, 2019
Welcome home #BraveheartAbhinandan! Admire your courage that you have shown behind enemy lines. Thank you Hon’ble PM @narendramodi Ji for securing release of our brave fighter pilot unscathed. pic.twitter.com/6dx0nXXXJu— Pema Khandu (@PemaKhanduBJP) March 1, 2019
भारत का वंदन , घर आया #Abhinandhan 🇮🇳— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 1, 2019
स्वागत। वंदन। अभिनंदन।— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) March 1, 2019
‘Abhinandan’ Bharat !— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) March 1, 2019
Our Abhinandan is back with us!#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan
हमारे जांबाज विंग कमांडर अभिनंदन का सही सलामत भारत लौटना सुकून देने वाली बात है। अभिनंदन अपने साहस और माँ भारती की सेवा के लिए हमेशा युवाओं को प्रेरणा देंगे यह मेरी शुभकामनाएं है। #Abhinandan— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) March 1, 2019
Dear Wing Commander Abhinandan, entire nation is proud of your courage and valour.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) March 1, 2019
India is glad to have you back.
May you continue to serve the nation and IAF with unparalleled passion and dedication. Best wishes for your bright future.
🇮🇳 Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, your dignity, poise and bravery made us all proud. Welcome back and much love. 🇮🇳— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 1, 2019
9:35 pm: Abhinandan was extremely happy that he is back to country: IAF.
9:35 pm: We are extremely happy that Abhinandan is back to India: IAF.
9:34 pm: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been handed over to us. He will now be taken for a detailed medical check-up because he had to eject from an aircraft. IAF is happy to have him back, says Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor at Attari-Wagah border.
9:21 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman accompanied by IAF Group Captain Joy Thomas Kurien, Defence Attache to Indian High Commission in Pakistan.
9:15 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crosses border to enter India.
9:10 pm: Documents are being exchanged ahead of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan's entry in India.
9:05 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman handed over to India.
8:55 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's handover likely at around 9 pm: Reports
Sources: Pakistan has changed the timing of handover of IAF's Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman twice. Indian defence minister is keeping a close watch on proceedings. The handover might now take place at 9 pm tonight. pic.twitter.com/2GUIzhrP89— ANI (@ANI) March 1, 2019
7:50 pm: Sania Mirza hails IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan as he returns to India.
7:45 pm: "In my time alive on this planet, I haven’t seen a bigger hero," tweets Ashwin Ravichandran.
In my time alive on this 🌎 planet, I haven’t seen a bigger hero. #WelcomeBackAbhinandan— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) March 1, 2019
7:17 pm: Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Mendhar, Balakote, Krishna Ghati sectors.
7:15 pm: Pakistan extends airspace shutdown till March 4, operations on few airports allowed.
7:00 pm: Pakistan blames India for damaging pine trees, plans to move UN accusing it of ‘eco-terrorism’.
6:25 pm: Convoy, that will take Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman the Wagah Border to the airport, is currently on standby.
5:50 pm: Virender Sehwag praises IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan for his courage.
How proud we are to have you ! Bow down to your skills and even more your grit and courage 🙏 #WelcomeBackAbhinandan . We love you and are filled with pride because of you.#WeAreSupposedToTellYouThis pic.twitter.com/IfqBFNNa3T— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) March 1, 2019
5:45 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomes IAF pilot's homecoming.
5:35 pm: Air Vice Marshall Ravi Kapoor will address media shortly: Reports.
5:29 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan handed over to Indian authorities: Reports.
5:22 pm: Heavy security at Attari-Wagah Border ahead of IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinanadan Varthaman's return.
5:16 pm: Earlier, Pakistan had turned down a request by India to send back Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by aerial route and not through the Attari-Wagah land border: PTI.
5:10 pm: BSF will shortly receive IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan at the Wagah-Attari border.
5:07 pm: Pakistan completes the handover process with BSF: Reports.
5:01 pm: Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court on Friday dismissed a Pakistani citizen's plea to stop the imminent release of the captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinanadan Varthaman.
4:48 pm: Pakistan to release IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman after its beating retreat ceremony.
4:39 pm: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be received by a team of Indian Air Force: ANI.
#NationSalutesAbhinandan | Team of Indian Air Force at the Attari-Wagah border waiting to receive Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) March 1, 2019
Follow LIVE updates: https://t.co/RNJIRWcmCl pic.twitter.com/yvTPAjmIPg
4:30 pm: Shah Rukh Khan tweets for Abhinandan: "There is no better feeling than Coming back Home, for home is the place of love, hope & dreams. Ur bravery makes us stronger. Eternally grateful. #WelcomeBackAbhinandan (sic)," he tweeted.
4:28 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman set to return home.
4:20 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman reaches Wagah border, will be released shortly.
4:18: pm: A large crowd has gathered at the Attari-Wagha border.
4:15 pm: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan set to return home shortly.
4:10 pm: Air Vice Marshals RGK Kapoor and Sreekumar Prabhakaran are likely to receive him at Attari-Wagah Border.
4:05 pm: Wing Commander Abhinandan will be flown to New Delhi from Amritsar: Reports.
4:00 pm: Celebrations across India ahead of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan's return.
3:30 pm: Every Indian is proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinanadan is from Tamil Nadu: PM Modi in Kanyakumari.
2.15 pm: The Beating the Retreat ceremony (at Attari-Wagah Border) will not be held today. Senior team of the Indian Air Force will receive Wing Commander, says Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Amritsar.
2.15 pm: Beating Retreat at Wagah border cancelled due to IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's homecoming today.
1.30 pm: IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman begins the journey back home. Starts from Islamabad to Lahore.
A celebratory scene at the Wagah Border. (Photo: News Nation)
12.43 pm: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will cross the border today. Can't tell you exact time since there are certain formalities. A senior Indian Air Force team from Delhi is here, they will be the ones to receive him, says Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon.
#IndiaFirst | Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman will cross the border today, can't tell you exact time since there're certain formalities, says Deputy Comm. Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Amritsar.— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) March 1, 2019
📸: ANI#NationSalutesAbhinandan#WelcomeHomeAbhinandanhttps://t.co/ZedcNPoZeZ pic.twitter.com/yoDQQyqHVR
12 pm: India wanted to send IAF plane to get back Wing Commander Abhinandan, but Pakistan has refused it, say sources to NDTV.
8 am: The area around the Wagah Border is buzzing since Thursday evening after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman would be released on Friday afternoon. People have gathered at the Wagah Border since early in the morning and are cheerfully awaiting the arrival of Wing Commander Abhinandan, who is expected to be released by noon.
Pictures from Wagah-Attari border. (Photo: ANI)
7 am: Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's parents welcomed with cheers, claps on board flight to Delhi from Chennai on Thursday night.
#WATCH | IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s parents welcomed with cheers, claps while boarding flight to Delhi from Chennai on Thursday.#AbhinandanVartaman#Abhinandancomingback@IAF_MCC #NationSalutesAbhinandan— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) March 1, 2019
Full story: https://t.co/hYHqvwLH93 pic.twitter.com/wzmicouuIw
6.55 am: The United States has welcomed Pakistan's decision to release Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who is currently in their custody after his fighter jet crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.