Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday wholeheartedly welcomed IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman back home while choosing not to receive him at the border to ensure that the defence protocol that is usually followed in such cases 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,” said the Chief Minister in a statement.
However, after his offer to the Prime Minister last evening to welcome the IAF officer back on the Indian soil at the Punjab border, Captain Amarinder said he thought it over and came to the conclusion that it might contravene the protocols laid out for such cases. When any PoW 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.
In the circumstances, it would be more proper for him not to go to the Wagah border 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 the tensions prevailing at the LoC following the IAF strikes in the aftermath of the deadly Pulwama terror attack.
Capt tweeted: “Continuing my tour of the border districts, have reached Dhianpur Village in Batala. Happy to see my fellow Punjabi’s in high spirits!”
Amarinder had tweeted his request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s announcement that the IAF pilot would be released on March 1.