Wagah (Punjab): Wagah is readying to welcome Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who has managed to capture the imagination of the country after his fighter jet was hit and his subsequent capture by Pakistani forces. He is going to return to India via Wagah later this afternoon.

Varthaman was captured by Pakistani forces on Wednesday after his aircraft was hit when IAF jets intercepted an attempted intrusion by Pakistan's air force. All eyes are on Wagah through where he is expected to return to India.

The mood at the border point on Friday morning was jubilant with hundreds of locals as well as those from nearby cities and villages turned up to welcome Varthaman. Several carried garlands and India’s flag as they congregated at a designated crowd spot.

"I want to join the armed forces, I am very impressed with the way Abhinandan Varthaman handled himself especially in the captivity of Pakistani forces. It was commendable. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that. I told my father that I wanted to be at Wagah when he comes back to India," said Saundarya Puri, a 15-year-old class 10th student who came with her father to welcome the IAF officer.

With Indian flags and the tricolour painted on their faces, several people from Amritsar and nearby villages of Atari gathered at the Wagah border to welcome Abhinandan Varthaman.


"I should be in college today attending my classes but I decided not to go today and instead come to Wagah to see Abhinandan Varthaman. I have seen his videos on social media and it is difficult to believe what he has done for India. If he can do so much, I can at least greet him when he crosses over to India from Pakistan," said Lucky Singh, an 18-year-old student of diploma in electrical engineering.

The return of the IAF officer is being seen as a major diplomatic win for the country as India had categorically told Pakistan that there will be no negotiation on Abhinandan Varthaman and he should be immediately sent back to India. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday that Varthaman would be sent back to India as peace gesture and with the hope resumption of dialogue process between the two countries. 

Also read: Abhinandan Varthaman’s release is a big win for India - Opinion

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