New Delhi: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be conferred with the Vir Chakra, India’s third highest wartime medal, on Independence Day for shooting down a Pakistan F-16 during the February 27 Air War between the Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force a day after Balakot strike. Varthaman’s name was recommended by the IAF for the gallantry awards annually conferred upon on Independence day.
Sapper Prakash Jadhav, who sacrificed his life in an encounter with terrorists at Kulgam in November 2018, and CRPF Dy Comdt Harshpal Singh will be conferred with Kirti Chakras. Another 14 personnel will be conferred with Shaurya Chakras. Indian Air Force’s Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal will be conferred with the Yudh Seva Medal for her role as a fighter controller during the February 27 aerial conflict.
The Mirage-2000 pilots who conducted the successful bombing of the main Jaish-e-Mohammed facility at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the pre-dawn airstrikes on February 26, in turn, will be awarded Vayu Sena medals.
After Pakistan’s Pulawama attack on India, India gave Pakistan a stern reply in form of Balakot Strike. During the Balakot Strike, 35 year-old Wing Commander was flying a MiG-21 Bison when he shot Pakistan’s F-16. Seconds after Varthaman made the historic kill of an F-16 by a MiG-21, his fighter aircraft was hit by Pakistan’s missile and he was forced to eject. He landed on POK’s territory and was captured and handed to the Pakistan army by the locals. After staying in Pakistan’s captivity for almost 60 hours, the IAF hero was returned to India on March 1. The February 27 clash took place a day after the Mirage-2000s struck targets in Balakot in response to the Pulwama attack in Kashmir in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force men were killed on February 14.
Bureau News, Kokan Now, New Delhi.