Referring to the courage of IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the word “abhinandan” has assumed a new meaning.
“The strength of our country is that it changes the meaning of words in dictionary. ‘Abhinandan’ in English until now meant ‘congratulations’, but it will be different from now on,” Modi said towards the end of his speech at an event in Delhi.
The Prime Minister’s remarks come a day after the Wing Commander was released by Islamabad after over 60 hours in captivity.
Following a prolonged delay at the Attari-Wagah border, Vardhaman crossed over into India after he was captured by Pakistan on February 27 as his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was hit by Pakistan Air Force jets near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
He returned to India a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the IAF pilot will be released as a “peace gesture” amid heightened tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.
PM Modi welcomed him back with a tweet, “Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. Vande Mataram!”
Tensions between the two neighbours escalated after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, claimed by Pakistan-based JeM, in which over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and several injured.