Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be conferred with Vir Chakra this Independence Day.
Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be conferred with Vir Chakra on Independence Day. (File pic) pic.twitter.com/an2fCoVNLb
— ANI (@ANI) August 14, 2019
The India Air Force had recommended the name of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for Vir Chakra on April 21. Abhinandan became a national icon after he had shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet with his Mig-21 Bison on February 27, 2019, when India and Pakistan’s air forces had engaged in a dog fight after India had destroyed terrorist camps in Balakot.
The IAF had earlier featured the Wing Commander as the lead character in its recently launched flight battle simulator mobile game, named ‘Indian Air Force: A Cut Above’.
Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award in the military during times of war after the Param Vir Chakra and the Maha Vir Chakra. In the past, the Indian Air Force pilots who shot down enemy fighters were all given Vir Chakra medals.
Wing Commander Abhinandan, flying a vintage Russian-made Mig-21 Bison, was part of the Indian Air Force fighters that took on the PAF fighter jets on February 27 during a dogfight.
A day prior to this, the Indian Air Force had carried out successful ‘non-military pre-emptive strikes’ on Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp deep inside Pakistan to dismantle the terror apparatus that had inflicted the suicide attack in Pulwama killing more than 40 brave security personnel of CRPF.
Following the airstrikes, Pakistan had attempted to attack Indian military establishments before Indian airforce intercepted to thwart their attacks. With its strike package comprising of various aircraft, Indian airforce was successful in pushing back Pakistani jets and during the air fight, one MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was hit after it had shot down a more lethal Pakistan’s F-16.
During the aerial engagement, Wing Commander Varthaman’s MiG-21 was hit and he had to eject safely across the Line of Control (LoC). Abhinandan was held captive in Pakistan for almost 60 hours before he was released on March 1, 2019, due to the tremendous international pressure exerted on the Pakistani government.
Abhinandan had not only managed to destroy sensitive documents before being captured in a hostile territory but had steadfastly refused to bow down to the harassment and had been resolute in his statement that he will not reveal any information to the Pakistanis.
WC Abhinandan’s sheer courage and determination to remain calm and resolute at the face of such adversity had earned him an iconic status overnight in India. His famous moustache had also become a rage instantly.
Besides Varthaman, Sapper Prakash Jadhav, who lost his life in an encounter with terrorists at Kulgam in November 2018, and CRPF personnel Harshpal Singh will be honoured with Kirti Chakra. 14 other personnel will get Shaurya Chakras.