NEW DELHI: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is likely to be decorated with the Vir Chakra, India's top military honour, the Defence sources said on Thursday.
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-Pakhtunkhwa province, are also likely to be decorated with Vayu Sena medals.
According to the official report, 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.
The Vir Chakra is the third highest wartime military award in India.
On February 14, an explosives-laden truck rammed into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama outside Srinagar, killing 40 soldiers in one of the biggest terror attacks in recent years.
The convoy comprised 78 buses in which around 2500 personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar.
Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was caused by a suicide bomber.
On February 26, Indian Air Force (IAF) had attacked terror camps in Balakot area in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The airstrikes come 12 days after the dreaded terror outfit-Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) carried out a debilitating attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14.
A day later, Pakistan fighter jets violated Indian airspace and the aerial fight ensued.
Abhinandan had strayed into Pakistan territory after shooting down the F-16 during a dogfight that had taken place on February 27. His own aircraft, a MiG-21 Bison, had been hit by a missile forcing him to eject from the fighter jet before it crashlanded in Pakistan.
Pakistani security forces had captured Abhinandan but released him on March 1st to India at the Wagah border.
With inputs from IANS