Abhinandan Varthaman Gets Vir Chakra On The Eve Of Independence Day
Indian Air Force’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. (Photo: PTI)

Abhinandan Varthaman Gets Vir Chakra On The Eve Of Independence Day

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Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who downed an enemy jet during an aerial combat with Pakistan in February and was held captive for three days, has been conferred the Vir Chakra, India's third-highest war time gallantry medal.

The defence ministry announced the military awards on the eve of Independence Day celebrations. From the Army, Sapper Prakash Jadhav of the Rashtriya Rifles will be posthumously awarded Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award.

Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, who played a key role as flight controller during the aerial combat between India and Pakistan on Feb. 27, has been awarded Yudh Seva medal.

The IAF received a total of 13 awards including five Yudh Seva Medals and seven Vayu Sena Medal. At least five Mirage fighter pilots, who were part of the operation to strike a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan's Balakot on Feb. 27, were among the awardees.

The Army also got eight Shaurya Chakra awards and 98 Sena medals. The Navy got one Shaurya Chakra award.

"We are very happy that Wing Comm Varthaman has been conferred with Vir Chakra," said an IAF official. Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army on Feb. 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. Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan. He had suffered injuries while ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison during the aerial combat. Days after he returned from Pakistan, Varthaman conveyed to the IAF his wish to return to the cockpit at the earliest. He is now set to fly MiG-21 fighter jets within a few weeks as a medical board cleared his return to the cockpit.

IAF fighter jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot on Feb. 26, nearly two weeks after the Pulwama terror attack. Pakistan retaliated on Feb. 27 by attempting to target Indian military installations

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