Abhinandan Varthaman to be conferred Vir Chakra on Independence Day
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who scripted history in February by shooting an F-16 aircraft of Pakistan while flying a MiG-21 Bison, will be awarded the Vir Chakra on Independence Day, Thursday. Vir Chakra is India's third-highest wartime medal. To recall, Varthaman was taken into custody by Pakistan and returned home after almost three days. Unsurprisingly, he became a national hero. Here are more details.
Backstory: In February, Varthaman downed an F-16 jet
On February 27, a day after IAF jets bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest camp in Balakot, PAF planes attempted to enter the Indian airspace. For the uninitiated, India had launched Balakot airstrikes in response to Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF soldiers were martyred. In the aerial combat, Varthaman shot an F-16 plane and proved how incredible he is. Unfortunately, he was captured by Pakistan.
On March 1, Varthaman returned home and the nation cheered
Even in custody, Varthaman remained calm. In the first video, which surfaced after he was taken into custody, the pilot patiently answered the questions of Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan announced Varthaman's release on February 28, and called it a "peace gesture". On March 1, as he crossed the Wagah Border, citizens across the nation remained glued to television screens.
Soon, Varthaman will be able to fly again
After returning, Varthaman underwent a series of medical tests. Last week, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, declared him fit and it is expected that he will be able to fly again soon. "He has to do a short refresher course since he has away from flying for a few months. We expect him to start flying after a fortnight," an official revealed.
Separately, pilots who bombed Jaish's camp will be awarded too
The Mirage-2000 pilots who carried out Balakot airstrikes will be given Vayu Sena medals. As per ANI, Wing Commander Amit Ranjan and Squadron leaders Rahul Basoya, Pankaj Bhujade, BKN Reddy, and Shashank Singh will be given the honor. Separately, Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal will be conferred Yudh Sena medal for her role as flight controller during the February dogfight.
Sapper, who was martyred last year, will also be awarded
Sapper Prakash Jadhav, who lost his life in November 2018 during an encounter with terrorists in Kulgam, will be awarded Kirti Chakra, the second-highest gallantry medal. CRPF Dy Comdt Harshpal Singh will also be given Kirti Chakra. Reportedly, 14 personnel will be given Shaurya Chakras. To note, Shaurya Chakra is the third-highest gallantry medal. India will be celebrating its 73rd Independence Day on Thursday.