Today, India's brave heart fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman turns 39. He has created a legacy like no other, exhibiting a great feat of bravery and resilience and redefining what it means to serve in the Indian Armed Forces. In honor of his birthday, let’s go over the iconic story of how he escaped from the clutches of the Pakistani army on the occasion of his birthday.
In February 2019, diplomatic relationships between India and Pakistan deteriorated further when a suicide bomber targeted a convoy of the CRPF and this led to the loss of 40 soldiers. In retaliation, India targeted a terrorist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan. The terrorist camp that was bombed claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror strike.
Pakistan was humiliated by India’s retaliation and in response, launched a fleet of 24 fighter jets to intercept military training camps in India. India was quick to respond and sent a fleet of their own fighter jets and soon an aerial fight ensued between the Indian and Pakistan fighter jets.
Abhinandan Varthaman was flying an F-16 when he locked in a target and flew further into enemy territory to intercept the jet. After shooting down the Pakistani jet, his jet was shot down too and he ejected from the plane, parachuting down into the Pakistani side of the Line of Control.
The villagers he encountered after landing made him believe that he was on the Indian side and when he screamed ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, he was assaulted and taken into custody. A picture of Abhinandan Varthaman that showed blood on his face made its way onto the web, causing widespread outrage in India. Abhinandan Varthaman was at the forefront of India-Pakistan tension for the duration of his capture. As an act of bravery and loyalty to India, he even reportedly swallowed a piece of paper that contained sensitive information so that Pakistani officials would not get their hands on it.
Abhinandan Varthaman was released 58 hours after his capture and Pakistani prime minister; Imran Khan said that his release was a gesture of peace.
Abhinandan Varthaman was the first Indian soldier to be captured by Pakistan since the Kargil war in 1999. One can only imagine the stressful conditions under which he was held, and the calmness and intellect with which he handled the situation are commendable.
For his bravery President Ram Nath Kovind awarded him with the Vir Chakra at the Rashtrapati Bhavan -India's third-highest wartime gallantry medal as he displayed an exorbitant amount of courage and gallantry while setting his personal safety aside. He is now an inspiration to many that serve in the Indian Armed Forces.
The Indian Air Force has approved the rank of Group Captain for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in 2021.