Day after IAF pilot’s return, PM Narendra Modi says ‘Abhinandan’ will acquire new meaning
PM Narendra Modi on Saturday said the Sanskrit word ‘Abhinandan’ would acquire a new meaning due to what has transpired over past couple of days.Updated: Mar 02, 2019 12:46 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a veiled reference to what has been viewed as a diplomatic victory of India at a public function in New Delhi to state that the world watches every move of the country closely. PM Modi said the Sanskrit word ‘Abhinandan’ would acquire a new meaning due to what has transpired over past couple of days.
Indicating that the international community takes the country seriously, PM Modi said, “Whatever India does, world watches it closely….It is the power of this nation that it changes the meaning of words. Abhinandan used to mean congratulation, now Abhinandan will have a new meaning.”
The prime minister’s remark has come a day after IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was in Pakistan Army’s custody since Wednesday morning after his aircraft was shot down and he landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir following an aerial dogfight with the jets of Pakistan Air Force.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was handed over to Indian authorities on Friday night at Attari-Wagah border in Punjab by Pakistan, which reportedly changed the time of his release twice during the day. A PTI report said that the delay in his release happened due to a video statement of the IAF pilot that the Pakistan Army wanted to record before his release.
The video was released by the Pakistani side on social media just before the IAF pilot was handed over to Indian authorities. The video clip, which has several cuts and jumps, shows Wing Commander Abhinandan saying that he was treated well by the Pakistan Army, which saved him from a mob. He is also heard saying that Indian media blows up matters out of proportion while reporting on India-Pakistan relations.
The IAF pilot was part of the Indian Air Force team that foiled Pakistan Air Force’s attempt to target military installations of India on Wednesday morning. Flying a MiG 21 Bison, the IAF pilot shot down F 16 PAF fighter jet before his aircraft was hit by one of the missiles.
Pakistan had breached Indian airspace drawing immediate response from India. In the aerial dogfight that ensued, Wing Commander Abhinandan had to eject his aircraft. His parachute drifted towards Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where he was arrested by the Pakistan Army.
Soon, a video was released from Pakistani handles on Twitter showing Wing Commander in blindfold with blood on his face and hands tied behind his back. He was being questioned by a Pakistani official.
After verifying the video clip, India demanded release of the IAF pilot by Pakistan, which initially said that it was ready to hand Wing Commander Abhinandan if it meant de-escalation of prevailing tension between the two countries. India rejected the “deal offer” issuing a strongly worded demarche reiterating its demand.
In what appeared as a surprise move on Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Wing Commander Abhinandan would be released as a “peace gesture” the next day. The IAF welcomed the decision calling it a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Convention that provides for a prisoner of war to be treated well and repatriated without being harmed.
Wing Commander Abhinandan returned to India slowly walking through Attari-Wagah border, where common people, mediapersons, security personnel and some of the high ranking military officers waited anxiously braving rains for his safe homecoming.
Many in the ruling BJP including the party president Amit Shah described Wing Commander Abhinandan’s return as “diplomatic victory” of the Narendra Modi government. In his address at the inaugural function of the ‘Construction Technology India 2019’ in New Delhi, PM Modi said, “We have to move forward as a parakrami (mighty) nation.”