Monday Nov 22, 2021
IAF pilot and Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman, who was arrested in 2019 by Pakistani forces after his MiG 21 aircraft was shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF), was awarded the Vir Chakra, the third-highest Indian military honour during wartime Monday.
As per the Indian media, Abhinandan has been bestowed with the honour for "shooting down a Pakistani F-16 plane during the February 2019 dogfight".
Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistan Army after his aircraft was shot down by the PAF. He was subsequently released a couple of days later by Pakistan as a "peace gesture" by Prime Minister Imran Khan to India.
The Vir Chakra award to Abhinandan was announced in August 2019 but was awarded today in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Pakistani politicians and government functionaries have also expressed astonishment over the award given to the Indian pilot.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman asked: "Award for drinking tea in Pakistani custody?"
PM's focal person on digital media Dr Arsalan Khalid said, "I feel for Abhinandan. Just because of @narendramodi and Indian media denial of the defeat and embarrassment they had bk then, poor Abhinandan is reminded of the episode every second month."