Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was bestowed the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest wartime courage honour, on Monday, 22 November for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aeroplane in February 2019.
He shot down an F-16 over the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during India’s Balakot air attack but was confined by the Pakistan Army after his aircraft was shot down by hostile forces.
The Pakistan Army was compelled to leave him due to the substantial tension put forth by the Indian side along with worldwide intervention into the issue.
Abhinandan was part of the Srinagar-based 51 battalion and had flown to prevent an aerial invasion launched by the Pakistanis on February 27, 2019. Back then, Abhinandan was a Wing Commander.
The award ceremony, held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and several other dignitaries. Various other military officers were also honoured at the event.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted, “President Kovind presents Vir Chakra to Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Varthaman Abhinandan. He showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed an exceptional sense of duty.”