01/03/2019 9:45 PM IST

IAF Pilot Abhinandan Returned To India By Pakistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced the release of the pilot as a "gesture of peace".

Francis Mascarenhas / Reuters
Children hold banners and Indian national flags after Imran Khan said Pakistan will release the Indian Air Force pilot.

Pakistan on Friday handed over Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India. In a statement issued minutes after the pilot crossed over to India from the Wagah-Attari border, the Pakistan Foreign Office said, “While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law.”

“The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been returned to India today,” it said.

The country had detained Varthaman following an aerial engagement between the air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control.

Hundreds of people gathered at the border on Friday to welcome the IAF pilot, singing songs, beating drums and carrying the tricolour in their hands.

India had on Wednesday summoned the acting high commissioner of Pakistan and demanded immediate and safe return of the IAF pilot.

New Delhi had also strongly objected to the neighbouring country’s “vulgar display” of an injured defence personnel in violation of international norms.

In a demarche to Pakistan, India had said no harm should be caused to the Indian defence personnel.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, addressing a special joint sitting of the parliament on Thursday, announced that the country will release the pilot as a “gesture of peace”.

The Indian Air Force said it is very happy that Varthaman is returning home but dismissed suggestions that it was a goodwill gesture from Pakistan, insisting it was in line with the Geneva Conventions.

(With PTI inputs)