Indian Air Force’s (IAF) 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 decorated with the Vir Chakra, on Independence Day. The Vir Chakra is the third highest wartime military award in India.
Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal will be awarded the Yudh Seva Medal for her role as a fighter controller during the 27 February aerial conflict between India and Pakistan, post IAF airstrikes in Balakot.
Indian Army’s Sapper Prakash Jadhav of 1 Rashtriya Rifles (Mahar) will be awarded Kirti Chakra (posthumously), for his gallant role in an operation in Jammu and Kashmir. Eight Army personnel will be awarded Shaurya Chakra, five of them posthumously.
Wing Commander Abhinandan had strayed into Pakistani territory after shooting down the F-16 during a dogfight that had taken place earlier this year. His own aircraft, a MiG-21 Bison, had been hit by a missile forcing him to eject from the fighter jet before it crash-landed in Pakistan.Pakistani security forces had captured the IAF pilot, but released him to India around 60 hours later at the Wagah border.
The Balakot airstrike was carried out by India in retaliation of a terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on 14 February in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.