ATTARI (PUNJAB): Abhinandan Varthaman coming back home from captivity.
The day slipped into sunset and then night but the wait for Wing Commander Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday and was released on Friday, continues. Long after nightfall, as the skies opened up and drenched Amritsar, there was no sign of the Indian Air Force pilot.
As analysts painstakingly debating each nuance of India, Pakistan relations in TV studios, anchors are going hoarse keeping up the constant commentary and journalists looking for information on when and how he would be handed over to India, the government has kept it all under wraps.
The daily retreat ceremony at the border front was cancelled for the day by authorities, worried that it could become a security nightmare with an estimated 20,000 people gathering at the spot. The will-we, won't-we-see-him game was played out across countless homes and offices, where work may have continued but with one eye on the screen -- TV or mobile or computer to monitor the developments. But information was scarce and speculation endless.
The sight of a convoy of cars driving out of Attari, about 30 km from Amritsar, sent viewers into a frenzy -- was Abhinandan inside one of them, was he being taken straight to Delhi on a special flight, would he address the media? No real answers were forthcoming. Till late in the evening, it wasn't even clear how and where the officer was handed over to Indian authorities. As darkness fell on a cold night in Attari, the crowds have thinned, but journalists continuing their stakeout.