Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman has been awarded the Vir Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind in an investiture ceremony. As per his citation, Group Captain Varthaman was conferred the gallantry award for showing conspicuous courage. “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,” the citation mentioned.
The then Wing Commander Varthaman demonstrated “exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy’s tactics.” The citation further stated that he “scanned the low altitude airspace with his Airborne Intercept (AI) radar and picked up an enemy aircraft that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor aircraft.”
It also noted how he alerted the other pilots in the formation of a surprise threat and went onto consolidate the riposte by gathering his wingman in an offensive against the Pakistani aircraft which was dropping weapons on Indian Army positions.
Group Captain Varthaman shot down a Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft comprising fourth generation F-16 and JF-17 on February 27, 2019 when the neighbouring country launched retaliation against India for the Balakot air strikes. In the process, Group Captain (then Wing Commander) Varthaman flew over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and his MiG 21 was hit.
He then had to eject over the enemy territory and was held captive for three days by the Pakistani army. The Pakistani Army had to release him on March 1, 2019 due to the hard diplomacy exercised by the Indian side along with extensive international intervention.
Soon after the news became public, netizens could not contain their excitement and shared congratulatory messages. “Respect for bravery!!! His Excellency the President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind awarded the Veer Chakra to the Wing Commander (now Group Captain) of the Indian Air Force and the hero of the surgical strike Abhinandan Varthaman,” BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted.
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