After Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan following an air encounter between the countries on Wednesday, returned to India on Friday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and sports fraternity took to Twitter to welcome the Wing Commander. The BCCI posted a special message for the IAF pilot on their official Twitter handle with his name engraved on a Team India jersey. "#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan You rule the skies and you rule our hearts. Your courage and dignity will inspire generations to come #TeamIndia," the BCCI tweeted.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar also welcomed the brave pilot and tweeted, "A hero is more than just four letters. Through his courage, selflessness and perseverance, OUR HERO teaches us to have faith in ourselves. #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan Jai Hind."
Team India skipper Virat Kohli, who will be leading the national team in the first of five-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia on Saturday, tweeted, "Real Hero. I bow down to you. Jai Hind".
Former India coach, Anil Kumble said in a tweet, "We salute your bravery #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan."
Ace Indian tennis player, Sania Mirza tweeted, "Welcome back Wing Commander Abhinandan .. you are our HERO in the truest sense.. The country salutes you and the bravery and dignity you have shown #Respect #WelcomeBackAbinandan Jai Hind."
A hero is more than just four letters. Through his courage, selflessness and perseverance, OUR HERO teaches us to have faith in ourselves.#WelcomeHomeAbhinandan— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 1, 2019
Real Hero. I bow down to you. Jai Hind pic.twitter.com/kDgocwpclA— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) March 1, 2019
We salute your bravery #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) March 1, 2019
Relief. Joy. Moved. #WelcomeHomeAbhinandan— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 1, 2019
How proud we are to have you ! Bow down to your skills and even more your grit and courage #WelcomeBackAbhinandan . We love you and are filled with pride because of you.#WeAreSupposedToTellYouThis pic.twitter.com/IfqBFNNa3T— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) March 1, 2019
Abhinandan Varthaman spent almost three days in Pakistani captivity after he was shot down. He hit a Pakistani F-16 before he was forced to eject and landed across the Line of Control.
Images of the pilot's capture and questioning, circulated from Pakistani accounts, left millions of Indians stricken and worried.
The 38-year-old was blind-folded, his eyes bleeding over his handlebar moustache and his hands tied behind his back. A video showed him dragged from a pond, surrounded by locals.