The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday promoted its war hero, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, to the rank of Group Captain. The position is equivalent to the post of Colonel in the Indian Army. The IAF has cleared the promotion of this decorated officer and he will be putting on the new rank shortly.
This has come as a Diwali gift for Abhinandan who was also conferred with Vir Chaktra for showing exemplary courage while defending the nation when a war-like situation between India and Pakistan had escalated in February 2019. He had shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in Pakistan occupied Kashmir 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.
Abhinandan was captured by enemies after his Mig 21 was shot down by a Pakistani missile right after he destroyed a Pakistani jet. But Pakistani Army and Imran Khan government released him within 48 hours of his capture after India signaled to Pakistan that it would further carry Balakot like strikes if Abhinandan was not released. India also warned Pakistan against harming its officer. On 28th February, Imran Khan had announced that his govt has decided to return Abhinandan as a “gesture of peace”, and the Wing Commander had crossed the India-Pakistan border at Wagah on 1 March 2019. Some of his videos in the custody of the Pakistani army became viral where he can be seen bravely confronting his questioning.
Abhinandan was part of the Srinagar-based 51 squadron and he had flown to foil an aerial attack launched by the Pakistanis on February 27, 2019.
India had carried a massive aerial at a terror training centre in Balakot of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on February 26, 2019. This was done to avenge Pulwama terrorist attack on February 14 that left 40 soldiers dead. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed was behind this attack.