DELHI ( JAVED MAHMOOD )
Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan has been awarded third gallantry award for his bravery when he was captured by Pakistan and his fighter-jet MiG-21 was blown up in the air by Pakistani fighter pilots in a tit-for-tat show in the air.
Abhinandan was thrashed badly by the locals where is landed after jumping out of his MiG-21 in Pakistani territory. Had the Pakistan security officials not reached the spot on time, this brave Indian pilot would have been rusting in the dust.
Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman — who was captured by Pakistan in 2019 after his MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down by a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet and later returned to India — was awarded India’s third-highest gallantry medal on Monday, Indian media reported.
Abhinandan received the Vir Chakra — the third-highest wartime gallantry award after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Chakra — from Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at an investiture ceremony in the capital. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Sindh were also present at the ceremony.
According to the report, Abhinandan, who was recently promoted from wing commander to group captain, was awarded the medal for “showing conspicuous courage” while shooting down a Pakistani F-16 aircraft in February 2019 — a claim that has been rubbished by the Pakistan military, independent observers as well as the international media.
The award’s citation stated: “Wing Commander Abhinandan showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty.”
In addition, Abhinandan’s unit — 51 Squadron — also received an award citation. Reacting to the reports, PPP Vice President and Senator Sherry Rehman tweeted: “Is this for real? Award for drinking tea in Pakistani custody? #paralleluniverse”