New Delhi, Aug 14: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be awarded the Vir Chakra on Independence Day for bringing down a Pakistani fighter aircraft while thwarting an air raid by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on February 27.
The Vir Chakra is the country's third highest wartime medal after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.
Abhinandan had shot down a Pakistan F-16 in an aerial dogfight near the Line of Control (LoC) before his obsolete Mig-21 crashed in enemy territory and he was held captive for 60 hours.
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 IANS.
Pakistani security forces had captured Abhinandan, but released him to India around 60 hours later at the Wagah border.
The bombing of the JeM terror facility in Balakot was carried out by India in retaliation of a terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.
The Indian Army and paramilitary forces will also receive gallantry awards.
Sapper Prakash Jadhav, who was martyred in an encounter with terrorists at Kulgam in November 2018, and CRPF Deputy Comandant Harshpal Singh will be conferred with Kirti Chakras.
Another 14 personnel will be awarded Shaurya Chakras.
The Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra are the second and third highest peacetime gallantry awards respectively.
The Ashoka Chakra is the highest bravery award during peacetime.
News24 Bureau with IANS inputs
Photo: Google Image