New Delhi: A host of personnel of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were awarded medals for gallantry by President Ramnath Kovind at a glittering ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday.
Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was one of the biggest attractions of the event. He was conferred with the Vir Chakra for shooting down an F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on February 27, 2019.
Abhinandan Varthaman, who was a Wing Commander at the time, shot down a much advanced F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) with his comparatively outdated MiG-21 aircraft in an air battle between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the PAF on February 27, a day after the Balakot airstrikes.
Abhinandan Varthaman was promoted to Group Captain on November 3, 2021.
Abhinandan, till date, is the only Mig-21 pilot to have ever shot down an F-16 over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He was, however, taken captive by the Pakistan Army after his aircraft was shot down by enemy forces.
Abhinandan’s unit 51 Squadron was felicitated with a unit citation for their stellar role in thwarting the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) attack on February 27, 2019. Aerial strikes were carried out by India in response to a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, in which over 40 Indian soldiers had been martyred.
Three Indian Army soldiers were posthumously honoured for their exceptional bravery and fortitude in the line of duty.
Sapper Prakash Jadhav from Corps of Engineers was posthumously awarded the Kirti Chakra - India's second-highest peacetime gallantry award.
Sapper Prakash Jadhav was honoured for playing a stellar role during an operation in Jammu and Kashmir in which several terrorists were neutralised. He saved the life of one of his colleagues by confronting the terrorists in a direct, face-to-face shootout.
Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his role in an operation where five terrorists were eliminated and 200 kilograms of explosive material was recovered.
Naib Subedar Sombir was also posthumously honoured with the Shaurya Chakra for killing an A++ category terrorist during an operation in Jammu and Kashmir.
President Ramnath Kovind also awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal to former GOC-in-C, Eastern Command Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (Retd), Engineer in Chief Lt Gen Harpal Singh and the Indian Navy's Southern Command chief Vice Admiral Anil Chawla.
The IAF's eastern sector commander Air Marshal Dilip Patnaik was felicitated with the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.