New Delhi: Indian Air Force ace pilot Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman was awarded the Vir Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind in an investiture ceremony on Monday. He was recently promoted to the rank of Group Captain.
Abhinandan shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft during aerial combat on February 27 a day after the Balakot airstrike. In the process, he flew over Pakistan occupied Kashmir and his MiG-21 was hit and he had to eject over the territory controlled by the enemy.
He was then taken into custody by the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan Army was forced to release him due to the extensive pressure exerted by the Indian side along with international intervention into the matter.
Abhinandan was part of the Srinagar-based 51 squadron and had flown to thwart an aerial attack launched by the Pakistanis on February 27, 2019. India had launched an aerial strike on Pakistan's terrorist facility in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on February 26.
Besides Varthaman, Sapper Prakash Jadhav will be posthumously presented with the Kirti Chakra award, the second-highest peacetime gallantry honour for neutralising terrorists in an operation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal will be honoured with Shaurya Chakra (posthumously) for playing a major role in an operation which led to neutralising five terrorists.
Naib Subedar Sombir will also be presented the Shaurya Chakra posthumously for killing an A++ category terrorist during an anti-terror operation in Jammu &Kashmir.
Among other prominent names who receive the awards on Monday include- Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for former Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (Retd), Engineer in Chief Lt General Harpal Singh, Southern Navy commander Vice Admiral Anil Chawla. Eastern Air Commander Air Marshal Dilip Patnaik will be honoured with Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM).
With inputs from Agencies