Former Indian Air marshal and father of captive IAF Pilot responds over news of his son release from Pakistan

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Former Indian Air marshal and father of captive IAF Pilot responds over news of his son release from Pakistan

NEW DELHI - The father of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan after air combat, on Thursday said he was proud of his son's bravery and thanked the people for their support and good wishes.

In a statement, Abhinandan's father S Varthaman, who was an Air Marshall, referred to a purported video of his son after his capture, and said he spoke like a "true soldier" despite being in captivity and that he was praying he would not get tortured in the neighbouring country and return home "safe and sound".

In the evening India erupted in joy when Pakistan Prime Minster Imran Khan announced that Abhinandan will be released on Friday as a "gesture of peace".

The family of Abhinandan has an excellent track record of serving the Indian Air Force for generations since the Second World War and his father besides being an ace pilot was a consultant for Mani Ratnam's film "Kaatru Veliyidai".

Pakistan held Abhinandan Wednesday after fighter jets of both nations engaged in an air battle.

"Thank you, my friends, for your concern and wishes. I thank God for his blessings, Abhi is alive, not injured, sound in mind, just look at the way he talked so bravely...a true soldier...we are so proud of him," his father said.

"I am sure all your hands and blessings are on his head...prayers for his safe return. I pray that he does not get tortured and comes home safe and sound in body and mind," the veteran IAF personnel, whose father was also an air warrior, further said.

He thanked the people for being with the family in this hour of need. "We draw our strengths from your support and energy," he added.