abhinandan varthman
IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman

Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the Wagah border to reach India late on Friday evening. He was handed over to the India Rangers by the Pakistan forces after being held captive by Pakistan for almost three days.

Wing Commander Abhinandan was received at the India check-post at 9:10 pm from the Pakistani side. He was accompanied by the Pakistani Rangers and the Indian air attache in the High Commission in Islamabad in Pakistan.

While Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said that they will be releasing Abhinandan as a 'gesture of peace', it was actually a part of the Geneva Convention to release him.

While Abhinandan wants to get back to duty as soon as possible, but according to protocol, he will first be subjected to a series of medical and psych tests, which will help ascertain his mental and physical health. He will also undergo a debriefing by his superiors to understand what happened in the 760 hours when he was in Pakistan's territory.

On Friday evening, Air Marshall R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff told reporters, "He will be taken for a detailed medical checkup. The officer has had to eject from a plane which would have put his body under immense strain."

According to protocol, Wing Commander Abhinandan would have been taken to the IAF Intelligence Unit, the moment he was handed over at the Integrated Check Post. He would have been subject to physical and mental health tests. The psychological examinations are to see if he was made to go through traumatic experiences by Pakistan to extract information from him.

Captured IAF pilot: Wing Commander Abhinandan is safe, new video surfaces

"He is surely a brave man. He fought Pakistani F-16 fighter jets with MiG-21 which is ages old and was built in the 1970s. India respects him for his bravery. But once our man is caught in enemy territory and taken in their custody, no matter what, the person has to undergo a thorough interrogation on returning," Kapoor said.

His body would have been scanned to make sure that there were no foreign devices put in by the Pakistani forces to bug him. The Wing Commander would have also been interrogated by the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The final and most important step in this process is the debriefing conducted by seniors where Abhinandan will be expected to recall everything which happened on the other side minute by minute. This is to make sure that no information was gleaned by Pakistan and that he was not recruited by the other side.

After this procedure, the decision will be made if he is both mentally and physically fit to fly again.