New Delhi: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistani F-16 on February 27, was conferred the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest wartime gallant-ry medal, on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force’s five Mirage 2000 fighter pilots who bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s terror training camp at Balakot in Pakistan have been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal. These fighter pilots are Wg Cdr Amit Ranjan, Sqn Ldr Rahul Basoya, Sqn Ldr Pankaj Bhujade, Sqn Ldr B. Karthik Narayan Reddy and Sqn Ldr Shashank Singh.
The IAF has overall got 13 gallantry awards (12 flying pilots) mostly for their role during the Balakot attack and for repulsing the Pakistan Air Force attack the next day.
Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, a woman officer who played a key role as flight controller during the aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27, has been awarded Yudh Seva medal.
Seven IAF officers have been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) and five the Yudh Seva Medal.
The MiG-21 Bison piloted by Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman had chased and shot down a F-16 which fell into Pakistan-occupied Kash-mir on February 27.
Pakistan Air Force fighters entered India’s airspace after the IAF carried out an airstrike on the Jaish camp at Balakot. During the chase Wg Cdr Varthaman’s MiG-21 also got hit and he had to eject in PoK. Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced the next day that Wg Cdr Abhinandan varthaman would be released on March 1 as a “peace gesture”.
Rashtriya Rifles’ Sapper Prakash Jadhav, who was killed in anti-terror operation in Jammu and Kashmir, had been posthumously awarded the Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry medal. CRPF deputy commandant Harshpal Singh has also been awarded the Kirti Chakra for killing “three dreaded terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed” in September last year in Jammu.
President Ram Nath Kovind has approved 132 awards to armed forces personnel and members of the paramilitary forces. The awards include two Kirti Chakras, one Vir Chakra, 14 Shaurya Chakras, eight Bar to Sena Medals (Gallantry), 90 Sena Medals (Gallantry), five Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry), seven Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry) and five Yudh Seva Medals. Defence minister Rajnath Singh has approved four mention-in-despatches to Army personnel for their significant contributions in different operations, including a posthumous one for “Operation Anantnag Town”.
The Army has got eight Shaurya awards and the Navy has got one. The Shaurya award is the third highest gallantry medal during peacetime. The Army received 98 Sena Medals (Gallantry).
Sapper Jadhav, who was conferred the Kirti Chakra, was leading a search party on November 27, 2018 in a village in J&K. Suddenly, terrorists opened fire at the search party. “Sensing danger to his buddy, he pushed him aside, exposed himself, under heavy firing by the terrorists, effectively retaliated back and eliminated one terrorist on the spot,” said a senior official. A second terrorist opened fire and threw a petrol bomb. “He alerted his team to leave the house. In this, he sustained bullet injuries, but undeterred from his grave injuries, he fearlessly brought down accurate fire and injured the terrorist. Due to the petrol bomb, a fire spread all over the house and Sapper Jadhav could not extricate himself and succumbed to his gunshot wounds and burn injuries,” said the official.
Sapper Jadhav was also recommended for a gallantry award for an operation on October 25, 2018 in which he neutralised a hardcore terrorist.