NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force pilot, who was shot down, captured and subsequently returned by Pakistan in early 2019, Abhinandan Varthaman, has been bestowed with the country’s third-highest gallantry medal on Monday.
The local media reported that India President Ram Nath Kovind presented Abhinandan with Vir Chakra at an investiture ceremony. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were also in the attendance at the occasion.
Abhinandan has only recently got promotion as Group Captain. He last held the position of Wing Commander. The medal was awarded to him in recognition of his bravery and for shooting down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 aircraft.
The Indian claims, have, however, been rejected time and again by Pakistan’s military, international news media, and neutral observers.
His plane was shot down by Pakistan Air Force, a well-documented event acknowledged by one and all, with him being captured on February 27, 2019. However, the Pakistani government decided to return him to India as a gesture of goodwill to deescalate the tension that had been built after India made unsuccessful attempts of sabotaging Pakistan’s sovereignty by violating its airspace.