Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who had shot down a Pakistani F-16 near the Line of Control (LoC) in February resulting in his capture and subsequent release by Islamabad, is to be honoured with the Vir Chakra gallantry medal, India’s top military honour on Independence Day.
Abhinandan had strayed into Pakistan territory after shooting down the F-16 during a dogfight that had taken place on February 27. His own aircraft, a MiG-21 Bison, had been hit by a missile forcing him to eject from the fighter jet before it crashlanded in Pakistan.
Pakistani security forces had captured Abhinandan, but released him to India around 60 hours later at the Wagah border.
The pilot went through a series of physical and mental evaluations since his capture and release.
The bombing of the JeM terror facility in Balakot was carried out by India in retaliation of a terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.