Chennai: The Government of India has announced that Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be awarded the Vir Chakra tomorrow (Independence Day) for his bravery in Pakistan territory.
Abhinandan was in Pakistan custody after his MiG-21 Bison was brought down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir following an engagement with Pakistani Air Force jets violating Indian airspace 27 February 2019.
Since then a video of his being roughed up while blindfolded has gone viral, as have two others showing him being interrogated and subsequently claiming that he has been treated well by the Pakistani forces and “will not change” his statement “if” he returns to India.
His poise and confidence under pressure moved people across the country. In one of the videos, Abhinandan points to the Geneva Convention when he only discloses his service number and identifies himself as a Hindu. When pressed by the Pakistani authorities to reveal more, he calmly says, “I’m sorry sir… that’s all I’m supposed to tell you.”
On 28 February, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced at a joint sitting of Parliament that the government has decided to release Abhinandan the next day as a “gesture of peace”. A petition filed in court seeking an injunction to stop his release was dismissed the same day. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said his government announced the release of the IAF Wing Commander out of a desire for peace and there was no compulsion or pressure on Pakistan as was implied by the Indian media.
Abhinandan crossed the India-Pakistan border at Wagah 1 March 2019.
The video clip of his sipping a cup of tea and talking calmly to the Pakistani authorities who captured him made him the darling of the masses and established his credentials as a braveheart.