Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday welcomed IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman back home while choosing not to receive him at the border to ensure that the military protocol is not violated in any way.
“I would have loved to go since both he and his father were from the National Defence Academy, like me, and it would have been an extremely happy and nostalgic moment for me to receive the brave officer,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.
After his offer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday evening to welcome the Indian Air Force (IAF) officer back on Indian soil at the Punjab border, Amarinder Singh said he thought it over and concluded that it might contravene the protocols laid out in such cases.
“When any prisoner of war from the 1965 or 1971 war came back, he was first sent for medical examination, followed by a debriefing, which was likely to be the case with Wing Commander Abhinandan too,” he noted.
It would be more proper for him not to go to the Attari border, around 285 km from here, to receive the officer, said the Chief Minister, who was camping in the border areas for the past three days as part of the confidence-building exercise undertaken by him in the wake of tensions prevailing at the Line of Control following the IAF strikes in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
But the Chief Minister extended a very warm welcome to Varthaman, saying the whole nation was proud of the way he stood up to questioning by the Pakistan armed forces during captivity.