A day after, Abhinandan in high spirits

A day after, Abhinandan in high spirits

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Army's R R hospital, who was captured by Pakistan during aerial combat, in New Delhi, on Saturday. PTI

A day after he returned from Pakistan's custody, Indian Air Force’s Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman was in “high spirits” as doctors at Army’s Research and Referral hospital checked his medical conditions.

The brave officer, who spent nearly 60 hours in the captivity of Pakistan Army, told Indian officials that he was kept in a solitary cell without any access to TV, radio, newspaper and phone.

The fighter pilot, DH learnt, had no knowledge of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to release him when he recorded the video messages at the behest of his captors. Minutes before his release on Friday, Pakistan Army released a heavily-edited propaganda video based on those recordings.

On Friday evening Abhinandan was handed over to Indian officials at Wagah-Attari border from where he was taken to Amritsar Air Force station. He was brought to Delhi in a Service aircraft and underwent a preliminary medical check-up at Air Force Central Medical Establishment.

At the Air Force Station, New Delhi Abhinandan met IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Saturday morning. Subsequently, he was moved to the Army Hospital-Research and Referral in the Delhi Cantonment area.

At the hospital, he had a stream of visitors including Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Lt Gen M Ganguly, director general of medical services of the armed forces.

“The minister met Wg Cdr Abhinandan at RR hospital, interacted and enquired about his health. The officer was in high spirit and was happy to meet the minister,” said a defence ministry official.

The MiG-21 pilot’s family including his wife Sqn Ldr Tanvi Marwah (retd) and son Tavish, 7, was by his side. His sister Aditi, who lives in France, also flew in to be with the family.

“The pilot has to regain his health and physical fitness as he ejected from a fighter plane, ran around and beaten by a mob. Returning to the normal health is the priority,” said an official.

When he crossed over to India Friday night, his right eye above his handlebar moustache appeared swollen. The medical tests are likely to continue till Sunday after which the debriefing sessions are likely to start.