Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was brought to Delhi after Pakistan released him through the Attari-Wagah border late Friday night, was undergoing a series of medical tests as part of a "cooling down" process. Early on Saturday morning, Varthaman met his immediate family members as well as several top officials of the Indian Air Force. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also met the IAF hero and conveyed to him that the entire nation is proud of his courage and determination.
He arrived in the national around around 11:45 PM on 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.
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)