Wing Commander Abhinandan to be conferred with Vir Chakra on Independence Day
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent nearly 60 hours in Pakistan’s custody after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down by Pakistan Air Force F-16s in February, will be awarded the Vir Chakra gallantry medal on Independence Day.
Vir Chakra is the third highest honour after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra. This development comes days after reports of the gallantry award emerged for his bravery.
Wing Commander Varthaman emerged a national hero after he shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet on February 27 during a dogfight near the Line of Control.
The dogfight took place a day after Indian Air Force jets bombed terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot after 40 soldiers were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama by a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The 36-year-old IAF pilot had sustained injuries while ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison. He was captured by Pakistani forces and returned to India three days later, on March 1.
An examination soon after his return from Pakistan revealed injuries to his ribs. Pakistani officials claimed the injuries were the result of assault by locals after his jet went down and asserted that he was treated in compliance with the Geneva Convection.
Wing Commander Varthaman said Pakistani authorities did not physically torture him but he was subjected to “mental harassment”.
Days after he returned from Pakistan, Varthaman conveyed to IAF brass his wish to return to fighter cockpit at the earliest. IAF’s Bangaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine has given the go-ahead to Varthaman to fly again following a thorough medical evaluation, as per reports. The Wing Commander is expected to start flying soon.
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