Abhinandan Varthaman conferred Vir Chakra for showing gallantry, dignity

Abhinandan Varthaman
Indian Air Force (IAF) officer Group Captain Varthaman Abhinandan was awarded the Vir Chakra on Monday (November 22) for his gallantry and dignity in combat with Pakistan forces and during his capture in February-March 2019.

Indian Air Force (IAF) officer Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman was awarded the Vir Chakra on Monday (November 22) for his gallantry and dignity in combat with Pakistan forces and during his capture in February-March 2019.

Abhinandan, who as a Wing Commander then had shot down a Pakistani F-16, was conferred the award by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

A day after Indian fighter planes dropped bombs in Balakot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, claimed by India to be terrorist bases, Pakistan retaliated with their air force on February 27, 2019.

During the brief engagement, Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan scanned the low altitude airspace with his Airborne Intercept (AI) radar and picked up an enemy aircraft (Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft) that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor aircraft.

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Abhinandan then pursued a retreating bomber aircraft of the Pakistani air force, and shot down an F-16 aircraft with his on-board missile.

Also read: Balakot hero Abhinandan leads MiG-21 Bison aircraft on Air Force Day

However, in the air combat, Abhinandan’s aircraft was shot down and he landed in Pakistani territory.

“Despite being captured by the enemy, he continued to display exceptional resolve in dealing with the adversary in a stoic, brave and dignified manner till he was repatriated on March 1, 2019. His actions raised the morale of the armed forces in general and the IAF in particular,” his award citation reads.

“Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty,” it said.

The whole incident happened ahead of the general elections in India in April-May 2019.

Abhinandan was repatriated by Pakistan after 60 hours following intense negotiations between the two countries. Earlier this year, he was promoted from Wing Commander to Group Captain.

He comes from an Air Force family and hails from Tamil Nadu near Kanchipuram

Shaurya Chakra for Army Major

President Kovind also conferred Shaurya Chakra to Major Maheshkumar Bhure, who in 2018, led an operation killing six top terrorist commanders in Jammu and Kashmir.

“(Then) Captain Maheshkumar Bhure cordoned the target house and achieved complete surprise, thereby trapping the terrorists. The terrorists attempted to break the cordon in darkness by lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately. As they ran towards his position, the officer retaliated with deadly accurate fire at close range, thereby killing a terrorist and forcing the other terrorists to retreat back.”

Bhure, who joined the army in 2014, hails from Osmanabad district in Maharashtra.

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