Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman nearing duty in fighter cockpit: Reports

Varthaman was taken off flying duties after sustaining injuries, while ejecting from his damaged Mig-21 fighter jet during an aerial dogfight with Pakistani F-16s on February 27.

Published: 09th August 2019 02:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th August 2019 02:04 PM   |  A+A-

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman (File | PTI)

By Online Desk

IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent nearly 60 hours as a prisoner in the hands of Pakistani military after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down by an enemy missile on February 27, is nearing active combat duty.

However, this will happen if he clears the last round of medical tests. 

Varthaman was taken off flying duties after sustaining injuries while ejecting from his damaged fighter jet.

He had successfully undergone a series of physical and mental evaluations, along with extensive debriefing sessions, since his release in early March.

When an initial medical evaluation revealed injuries to his ribs, there were apprehensions that he was tortured in the hands of his Pakistani interrogators. However, Pakistan termed the injuries a result of the assault by locals and that he was treated in accordance with the Geneva Convection during custody.

Varthaman had said that while Pakistani authorities did not physically torture him, he was subjected to "mental harassment".

He went through another set of tests to determine if he has suffered more internal injuries and whether Pakistani authorities have planted electronic spying devices or bugs in his body. However, as per media reports, no such implants were found.

Later in April, he was posted to an unspecified airbase along the Pakistan border in the western sector. 

IAF Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa also confirmed that Varthaman would return to active combat duty as soon as he was declared fit.

Media reports also said that Varthaman is likely to be decorated with the Vir Chakra, India's top military honour, quoting Defence Ministry sources.

Along with Abhinandan, pilots of the five Mirage-2000 fighter jets, who had dropped bombs on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror launch-pad in Balakot area in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunhkwa province, are also likely to be decorated with Vayu Sena medals.

"The final list of gallantry awardees will get the nod from President Ram Nath Kovind on August 14. Only after the list has been formally approved by the President can we disclose the names of awardees to the general public," a senior Indian Air Force official told the media.

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