Exemplary bravery and commitment to the nation displayed by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is a source of inspiration for the youth, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday.
The safe return of the brave pilot is a matter of happiness and relief for the country, he said on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.
Captured by Pakistani authorities on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison went down during a dogfight with Pakistani jets, the Wing Commander was brought to Delhi after Pakistan released him last night. Before his plane was hit, Varthaman had shot down an F-16 of Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
"The safe return of our brave Wing Commander is a matter of much happiness and relief for India. The exemplary bravery and commitment to the nation shown by him will inspire our youth," Gadkari said.
Extending his best wishes to Varthaman, Nitin Gadkari said what else could bring more happiness than his safe return with full pride.
Varthaman was brought to Delhi after Pakistan released him through the Attari-Wagah border late March 1 night.
After he was captured, Varthaman showed courage and grace in the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and others.
A video circulated on social media that he was badly beaten up by a group of people before getting rescued by Pakistani security personnel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier welcomed the return of Varthaman, saying the nation is proud of his exemplary courage.