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On way to receive son, IAF pilot’s parents get standing ovation in flight

Ahead of his release by Pakistan, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s parents were greeted with cheers and given standing ovation in a Chennai-Delhi flight.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2019 13:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Abhinandan Varthaman,Indian Air Force,Wagah border
Retired Air Marshal S Varthaman and his wife Shobha were greeted with cheers and given standing ovation in a Chennai-Delhi flight on Friday morning on their way to receive son Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday.(Video grab/Twitter)

Standing ovation, claps and cheers are not seen every day in a flight. But this was how parents of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman were greeted on Thursday night when they took a flight from Chennai to Delhi on their way to receive their son. A video shot inside the Chennai-Delhi flight is being widely circulated on social media.

Wing Commander Abhinandan is likely to be released by Pakistan at Attari-Wagah border in Punjab, two days after he was captured by the Pakistan Army. He had landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after his aircraft fell down following an aerial dogfight with the Pakistan Air Force on Wednesday morning.

Watch: Parents of IAF pilot Abhinandan get standing ovation in flight

IAF pilot Abhinandan’s father Retired Air Marshal S Varthaman is a highly-decorated officer while his Shobha Varthaman is a doctor. Wing Commander Abhinandan comes from a family which has served Indian Air Force since the World War II days, when his grandfather Simhakutty was a member of the force.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced in a joint session of the National Assembly of Pakistan that Wing Commander Abhinandan would be released as “peace gesture”. This comes amid reports of mounting pressure on Pakistan to release the IAF pilot under Geneva Convention.

Follow live updates on India-Pakistan developments

Wing Commander Abhinandan is likely to be freed at joint check post at the Attari-Wagah border. Responding to a question about the “peace gesture” claimed by Pakistan, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor on Friday evening said, “We see it as a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Conventions.”

The assistant chief of air staff also said that Wing Commander Abhinandan was flying the MiG 21 Bison which shot down an F 16 Pakistan Air Force jet on Wednesday morning in the aerial combat that ensued after Pakistan violated Indian airspace and attempted to target military installations.

Also Read | Airman coming home: IAF pilot being released as a goodwill gesture, says Imran Khan

Pakistan has not admitted to having breached the Indian airspace and also kept mum on the use of F 16 jets in the PAF operation, which Imran Khan justified as a “retaliation by a sovereign nation” after strike by the IAF.

The IAF had targeted a terror camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The terror camp was said to be the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed responsibility for February 14 attack on CRPF killing 40 soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama.

First Published: Mar 01, 2019 11:15 IST