Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to get Vir Chakra on Independence Day

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Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. File photo

New Delhi, August 14: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the Indian Air Force will be conferred Vir Chakra on Independence Day.

Abhinandan Varthaman became the face of the military confrontation between India and Pakistan in February this year.

The IAF foiled the Pakistani retaliation, and in the dogfight, Abhinandan Varthaman downed an F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force, showing grit, determination and bravery.

The wing commander cleared all medical tests and is expected to resume his flying duties soon. Abhinandan Varthaman was taken off flying duties due to injuries sustained in Pakistan after ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet during a fight with Pakistan on February 27, 2019.

WHEN ABHINANDAN DOWNED A PAK F-16

Tensions between India and Pakistan heightened in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed on February 14. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.

Days after Pulwama attack, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out an airstrike at a terror camp run by Jaish-e-Mohammed. During the following confrontation, IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistan F-16 jet on February 27.

Abhinandan had fired an R-73 missile to take out the Pakistan F-16 aircraft before his Mig 21 Bison was hit by an AMRAAM missile. The development now seals the fact that Pakistan had used an F-16 in an offensive role.

But IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistani forces.

NATIONAL HERO ABHINANDAN VARTHAMAN

Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on February 27 by Pakistan following a dogfight between the two air forces in which his MIG-21 was shot down.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a day later that they will release him — seen as a major step towards defusing a near-war situation triggered by India’s retaliation over Pakistan’s continued support for terrorism.

Abhinandan was later handed over to Indian authorities at the Attari-Wagah border on March 1.

The world first came to know of Abhinandan when photographs of him — captured, blindfolded and handcuffed by the Pakistani military — surfaced. Later, a video was released in which he sipped tea and said his captors were treating him well.

When he was about to be released, the IAF braveheart was also made to record a video statement praising the Pakistani military. The clip had the wing commander saying that the Pakistani Army saved him from the mob.

On March 1, Abhinandan was finally released as India built diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.