Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who will be awarded the Vir Chakra, along with pilots of the five Mirage-2000 fighter jets that took part in Balakot strikes are likely to receive top military awards.
New Delhi: Reports claim that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is likely to be awarded the Vir Chakra.
Abhinandan Varthaman who had shot down a Pakistani F-16 near the Line of Control (LoC) in February and was captured by Pakistan and was released after three days of detention is likely to be honoured with India's top military award.
According to IANS, pilots of the five Mirage-2000 fighter jets, who had dropped bombs on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror launch-pad in Balakot area in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, are also likely to be decorated with Vayu Sena medals.
In March, as soon as Abhinandan was released by Pakistan, Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to confer him with the Param Vir Chakra.
In a letter to Modi, Palaniswami had said the IAF pilot, a native of Tamil Nadu, displayed amazing poise and confidence in the face of adverse conditions and it would be appropriate he be awarded the highest military honour.
Varthaman, was captured by Pakistan on February 27 during an aerial combat with Indian Air Force, was released on March 1. He joined the services after a four-week sick leave.
Orders were issued for his transfer from Srinagar to another base in the western sector, sources said, terming the transfer as a “routine one“.
The IAF pilot went on leave in mid-March after security agencies completed a nearly two-week debriefing following his return from Pakistan.
Sources said a medical board will review his fitness to help the IAF top brass decide whether he can return to fighter cockpit as desired by him.
Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.
Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Abhinandan was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.
After he was captured, Abhinandan showed courage and grace in handling the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and people in general.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.
The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.
* With PTI inputs
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Last Updated 8, Aug 2019, 6:18 PM