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Abhinandan undergoes 'cooling down' process

New Delhi: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was brought to Delhi after Pakistan released him through the Attari-Wagah border late on Friday night, underwent a series of medical tests as part of a "cooling down" process, officials said. Early on Saturday morning, Varthaman met his immediate family members as well as several top officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF), they said.

Varthaman arrived in the Capital around 11:45 pm Friday and was soon after taken to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialised medical evaluation centre for air crew of all the three services. He had been captured by the Pakistani authorities on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison went down during a dogfight with Pakistani jets.

But before his plane was hit, Wing Commander Varthaman shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16. He is undergoing a series of medical tests as part of the "cooling down" process and it is expected to continue till Sunday. Once, the health check up phase is over, debriefing sessions will be arranged for him, the officials said.

Tensions between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. Pakistan retaliated the strike by attempting to target Indian military installations on Wednesday. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan on Saturday agreed to operationalise the Samjhauta Express at their ends, clearing the way for resumption of services. The train is set to leave from Delhi for Pakistan on Sunday and from Lahore for India on Monday.

While Pakistan had cancelled its services right after the IAF air strike, India cancelled the operations of Samjhauta Express on February 28. The Railway Board, in an order, had said all operations of the Attari Special Express, Delhi-Attari-Delhi, which together with the Pakistani line from Wagah-Lahore is known as the Samjhauta or Friendship Express, will remain cancelled.

It had also said that the cancellation was due to "purely operational reasons". Sources said after the missive about Pakistan's resumption of services was conveyed to the board, it was decided that services on the Indian end will resume too.

The Samjhauta Express was started on July 22, 1976 under the Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations. The train service, named after the Hindi word for "agreement", comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach.

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