Abhinandan Varthaman Likely To Be Honoured With The Vir Chakra

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s cool composure and dignity while he was held captive in Paskistan won the nation’s heart. Bruised, battered and bleeding from his face, but what stood out was his calmness as he gave his name and service code to the Pakistani captors. And now, the Indian Air Force pilot is likely to be decorated with the Vir Chakra, India’s top military honour.

Abhinandan Varthaman had shot down a Pakistani F-16 near the Line of Control (LoC) in February resulting in his capture and subsequent release by Islamabad. Along with him, there were also the pilots of the five Mirage-2000 fighter jets, who had dropped bombs on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror launch pad in Balakot area, and all of them are most likely to be decorated with Vayu Sena medals. However, Indian Air Force officials haven’t confirmed the names of the awardees to the general public yet as it can be shared only after the final list of gallantry awardees gets a nod President Ram Nath Kovind. And that’s scheduled to happen a day before Independence Day on August 14.

The bombing of the JeM terror facility in Balakot by India was carried out in retaliation of a terror strike in Jammu & Kashmir’s Pulwama, which saw the death of 40 CRPF Jawans. It was then that Abhinandan had strayed into the Pakistan territory after shooting down the F-16 in the dog-fight. However, his own aircraft, a MiG-21 Bison had been hit by a missile forcing him to eject from the jet before it crash landed in Pakistan. The country’s security forces had captured the Indian pilot, but released him around 60 hours later at the Wagah Border.

The Vir Chakra is the third highest wartime military award in India, after the Param Vir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.