New Delhi: Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been awarded the Vir Chakra for his role in thwarting a Pakistani offensive a day after the Balakot strikes in February 2019.
Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award in the military after the Param Vir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.
Apart from Varthaman, 15 Army personnel, including Sapper Prakash Jhadav who got Kirti Chakra, have received gallantry awards (posthumous).
Top defence sources told ThePrint the government has accepted the recommendation of the IAF for the award to Varthaman for his actions over the Nowshera sector, including shooting down an F-16 fighter aircraft of Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
In the past, during wars, pilots who shot down enemy fighters, were all awarded Vir Chakra medals.
Varthaman received praise within the military for not just shooting down a PAF fighter, but also because of “his demeanor in the custody of the Pakistan army and how he behaved despite the torture that was inflicted on him is a matter of pride for the entire Indian military,” a top official told ThePrint.
Varthaman was captured on 27 February by Pakistan following a dogfight between the two countries’ air forces in which his MIG-21 was shot down.
Also read: What Wing Commander Abhinandan told his wife when he called while in Pakistan’s custody
Since his radio was jammed, he could not hear the Control Room asking him to turn back. He flew across the Line of Control, locked on to an enemy aircraft and shot it down using an air-to-air missile R 73 on his ageing MiG-21 Bison.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a day later on 28 February that they would release him — seen as a major step towards defusing a near-war situation triggered by India’s retaliation over Pakistan’s continued support to terrorism.
Not yet given medical clearance to fly
Contrary to reports in the media, Wing Commander Varthaman has not been given medical clearance to fly again.
Top sources said the officer, who is now posted to a different station in Rajasthan after being moved out of Srinagar due to security concerns, is still to get the clearance to fly again.
He had suffered injuries to his spine after landing following a successful ejection. He also suffered a crack in the ribs, which the IAF believes happened when an ISI officer punched him in custody. The ISI also made him speak to his wife.
Also read: Pakistan subjected Wing Commander Abhinandan to loud music & bright lights to break him
Very very good service from Indian pilots
Shame on India
According to abhinandan video released by ISPR he was quoted saying” I was looking for the appropriate targets when I got hit… how come he hit a f16 ?a question mark #1
Secondly MIG bison carries a total of 4 seekers ie missiles. Ispr showed all four. eith what tools/ weapon he used / fired on F16 and brought it down….?Question mark # 2. tamil films have more reasonable script than this….
Abhi None Done downed an F16 as india claims, …but Pk was totally unaware of their losrt F16 …so Pk honoured him with “fantastic tea” and released him two days after his capture !
What a joke !!!!
I don’t wish to upset anyone here but there is no evidence that this gentleman shot down a Pakistani – F16.
Lockheed Martin who has a multi million dollar service contract, with PAF for their F16 fleet have told the international press and the US government that non of them are missing from the PAF inventory.
Modi won the election on jingoism about Balakot.
Now he is requiring the IAF to tell lies about an achievement of this pilot.
Abhinandan conduct when captured was brave and exemplary, this should be recognised, but I am sure this poor pilot and the aircraft controllers who know the truth, are feeling embarrassed by being dragged into the lies of politician.
Please Recognise people for their achievements and conduct, I admire this pilot for doing his duty and for being flawless in carrying out his training in a real situation.
Consider folk how bad it is for Abhinandan’s own integrity, the BJP government insults him by making him a honest man, complicit in accepting a dishonest award.
No Pakistan F16 was shot down, our IAF chief should have the spine to resist the IAF being made a tool for the politicians to win elections.
He took down a older twin seat trainer type F-16 A/B that explains paki reports two ejection parachutes from that.
Wonderful ! He should also be given a lifetime’s complimentary supply of the finest Darjeeling tea.
Unfortunately this Modi govt is Ridiculing Vir Chakra holder by awarding Abhinandan for below par performace. he was captured by enemy and Modi is politicising armed forces too. Shame Shame Shame
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