Beating Retreat Cancelled Ahead of IAF Pilot's Return

Pakistan claims it shot down 2 Indian jets

Under bright floodlights amid a heavy security presence, Varthaman crossed into India on foot at the Wagah border crossing in the state of Punjab.

His dead body will be handed over to Pakistani officials at Wagah border on Saturday.

After Abhinandan was shot down on Wednesday in a dogfight with Pakistani aircraft, purported footage that went viral showed him being beaten by locals before Pakistani soldiers intervened. As Abhinandan reached the border, he was taken to the Immigration Department for clearance.

Varthaman was accompanied to the border by the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, his departure was delayed due to procedural issues. From there, he was brought to the border.

India seemed wary of turning the pilot's homecoming into a spectacle.

"Regardless of what's going on with the wing commander and him being transferred back to India, the situation in terms of any semblance of peace and tranquility is certainly far from it".

While the two countries are making huge decisions, Netizens addressed their concern on Twitter using the hashtag '#SayNoToWar.' Through the use of the said hashtag, it will garner support not just from Pakistani and Indians, but also from different countries and people around the globe. Pakistan changed the timing of his handover twice before he was officially handed over to India at around 9.25 pm on Friday after spending over two days in the custody of Pakistani army officials.

France Friday extended its complete solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism in all its forms, as it welcomed the easing of tensions between India and Pakistan and the release the IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

Some were waving Indian flags, others had them painted on their cheeks.

Scores of people, who had gathered at Attari to welcome the IAF pilot back, continued to stay put despite the delay, darkness and even the rain and cold weather. He will be taken for a detailed medical checkup.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told lawmakers on Thursday, "We are releasing the Indian pilot as a goodwill gesture tomorrow". A new videotaped statement of Wg Cdr Abhinandan was broadcast on the national television shortly before his release.

"If permitted, I want to welcome the Wing Commander with this garland", said the youth carrying garland.

While the government tried to keep a relatively tight lid on the actual handover at the border on Friday, Indians enthusiastically celebrated their Air Force pilot's release online, with the #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan hashtag spreading fast across social media. I was in search of the target when your [Pakistan] Air Force shot me down. In one of the videos, 34-year-old was seen being dragged. He has been in Pakistan since then.

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