Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who nearly spent 60 hours in Pakistan’s custody, will be awarded Vir Chakra gallantry medal on this Independence Day. Wing Commander Abhinandan had shot down a F-16 fighter jet.
Abhinandan was flying Mig-21 Bison jet which was shot down by Pakistan’s F-16 in an aerial dog-fight. After he shot down the F-16 fighter jet, he emerged as a national hero on 27th February. After his Mig-21 Bison was shot down by a missile, he was captured by locals and then handed over to Pakistan Army.
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.
Abhinandan Varthaman, 36, is likely to rejoin flying duties after clearing medical tests.He had suffered injuries after ejecting from his damaged plane and parachuting to safety. The IAF pilot went through a series of physical and mental evaluations since his capture and release.
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”.
The Tamil Nadu-born fighter, hours after being freed, told senior IAF commanders he was ready to return to the cockpit.