Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan — who was captured by Pakistan after his MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down by a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet — was handed over in a gesture of peace to India at the Wagah border late Friday.
He was filmed walking across the Wagah pavilion in civilian clothes. He was received by Indian military officials on the side.
His return had earlier been delayed due to some procedural issues.
The pilot had been arrested on Feb 27 after his aircraft was shot down by the PAF upon violating Pakistani airspace.
A new videotaped statement of Wg Cdr Abhinandan was broadcast on national television shortly before his release.
Latest statement of Wing Commandar #Abhinandan before his departure for India. #WagahBorder #Abhinandancomingback#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan pic.twitter.com/jrLw8EbgXj
— Ameer Abbas (@ameerabbas84) March 1, 2019
“My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan,” he stated for the record in the statement.
“I am a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force. I was in search of the target when your [Pakistan] Air Force shot me down. I had to eject the plane which had sustained damage. As soon as I ejected and when my parachute opened and when I fell down, I had a pistol with me.”
“There were many people. I had only one way to save myself: I dropped my pistol and tried to run,” he was heard saying in the video.
“People chased me, their emotions were running high. Just then, two Pakistani Army officials came and saved me. Pakistani army captains saved from the people and did not let any harm come to me. They took me to their unit where I was administered first aid and then I was taken to the hospital where I further underwent a medical exam and received more aid,” he said.
“The Pakistan Army is a very professional service. I see peace in it. I have spent time with the Pakistan Army [and] I am very impressed.”
“Indian media always stretches the truth,” he regretted. “The smallest of things are presented in a very incendiary manner and people get misled.”