Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s biirthday today was born on 21 June 1983, is an Indian Air Force fighter pilot who, during the 2019 India–Pakistan standoff, was held captive in Pakistan for 60 hours after his aircraft was shot down in an aerial dogfight.
Pakistan released videos and images showing Varthaman being rescued from a violent mob of villagers by its soldiers, receiving first aid and being questioned while blindfolded.
Picture: Pilot Abhinandan didn’t lose his grit.
Despite a legal attempt to thwart it, Pakistan decided on 28 February 2019 to release him as a “gesture of peace” and he returned to India at Wagah on 1 March 2019. Varthaman was conferred the Vir Chakra gallantry award in August 2019.
His distinctive style of moustache later became popular in India.
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Abhinandan Varthaman’s biirthday today his Early Life and Career:
Abhinandan’s family is from Thirupanamoor, a village about 19 km (12 miles) from Kanchipuram.
His father is a retired Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Marshal (OF-8) and his mother is a doctor.
Abhinandan was educated at Sainik Welfare School, Chennai.
He graduated from the National Defence Academy and was commissioned into the combat (fighter) stream of the IAF as a flying officer on 19 June 2004.
He was trained at the IAF centres in Bathinda and Halwara, promoted to flight lieutenant on 19 June 2006 and to squadron leader on 8 July 2010.
Abhinandan was a Su-30 MKI fighter pilot before being assigned to the MiG-21 Bison squadron.
He was promoted to wing commander on 19 June 2017.
Abhinandan is married to a retired IAF Squadron Leader and lives in Chennai. They have two children.
Abhinandan Varthaman’s biirthday today his Capture:
On 27 February 2019, Varthaman was flying a MiG-21 as a part of a sortie that was scrambled to intercept an intrusion into Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani aircraft.
In the dogfight that ensued, he crossed into Pakistan territory and his aircraft was struck by a missile.
Varthaman ejected and safely descended into the village of Horran in Pakistan administered Kashmir, approximately 7 km (4.3 miles) from the Line of Control.
Local villagers said Varthaman could be identified as an Indian pilot by the Indian flag on his parachute.
Upon landing, Varthaman asked the villagers whether he was in India, to which a young boy said yes.
Varthaman reportedly said pro-India slogans, to which the locals responded with pro-Pakistan slogans.
Varthaman began to run while firing warning shots. He ran for approximately 500 m (1,600 ft) to a small pond, where he attempted to sink and swallow some of his documents. The villagers captured and manhandled Varthaman before he was rescued by the Pakistan Army.
Later that day, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed an Indian pilot was missing in action after a MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft was lost while engaging with Pakistani jets.
A statement released by the IAF also said before the crash, Varthaman had shot down a PAF Lockheed Martin F-16.
On 2 March 2019, nearly two days after the aerial engagement between PAF and IAF, the IAF displayed the parts of AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, which could be used only by the PAF’s Lockheed Martin F-16, at a media briefing.
The IAF also said they had identified the electronic signatures of the aircraft and confirmed it was the F-16 that was used.
According to an agreement between the US and Pakistan, Pakistan is only allowed to use the F-16 against terrorists.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations Director General refuted the later claims and said F-16s had not been used in the incident.
Repatriation and Subsequent Developments:
On 28 February 2019, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan announced at a joint sitting of the Parliament of Pakistan the government had decided to release Abhinandan the next day as a “gesture of peace”.
A petition was filed before the Islamabad High Court seeking an injunction to stop his release but the court dismissed it the same day.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, said his government announced the release of the IAF Wing Commander out of a desire for peace and that there was no compulsion or pressure on Pakistan, as was implied by the Indian media.
Varthaman crossed the India-Pakistan border at Wagah on 1 March 2019.
At a political rally, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Abhinandan’s release, saying the nation was proud of him.
Hours before his release, a new video showing Varthaman praising the Pakistani army while criticizing the Indian media was released to the Pakistani media. The video appears to have been heavily edited and the IAF later said it had been filmed while Varthaman was under duress.
Picture: Pilot Abhinandan comes back to India
A medical check-up upon his return located multiple bruises and a fractured rib but no ‘significant injuries’.
Abhinandan said the Pakistani authorities did not physically torture him but subjected him to considerable “mental harassment”.
Pakistan said he was treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
Manidra Jain announced Varthaman would be awarded the Bhagwan Mahavir Ahimsa Puraskar on 17 April 2019, the date of Mahavir Jayanthi.In August that same year, he was presented with the Vir Chakra gallantry award.
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