Abhinandan Varthaman moved to forward base western sector

NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who became the face of the tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan, has been shifted out of Srinagar and posted to a frontline air base in the western sector, Press Trust of India said, quoting official.

It said the IAF was going to recommend Varthaman’s name for Vir Chakra, the coveted wartime gallantry medal, which is the third highest after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.

Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan on Feb 27 during an aerial combat, had returned to his squadron in Srinagar last month though he was on a four-week sick leave.

The news agency said orders had been issued for his transfer from Srinagar to another base in the western sector, terming the transfer as routine one.

The IAF pilot went on leave in mid-March after security agencies completed a nearly two-week debriefing following his return from Pakistan.

Official told PTI a medical board would review his fitness to help the IAF top brass decide whether he can return to fighter cockpit as desired by him.

Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army after his Mig-21 Bison jet was shot down by Pakistan Air Force jets during the dogfight.

The report persisted with the Indian narrative that Varthaman had downed an F-16 during the aerial combat but it did not explain why Varthaman was not saying anything about the claim denied by Pakistan.