Sapper Prakash Jadhav of the Rashtriya Rifles to be awarded Kirti Chakra posthumously for operation in Kulgam. IAF received total of 13 awards including 5 Yudh Seva Medals and 7 Vayu Sena Medal. Army got eight Shaurya Chakra awards and 98 Sena medals while the Navy got one Shaurya Chakra award
WING Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who downed an enemy jet during an aerial combat with Pakistan in February and was held captive for three days, has been conferred the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest war time Gallantry Medal. The Defence Ministry announced the military awards on the eve of Independence Day celebrations. President Ram Nath Kovind approved a total of 132 Gallantry Awards and other decorations to personnel from the Armed and Paramilitary Forces and 8 Tatrakshak medals to Coast Guard personnel.
Sapper Prakash Jadhav of the Indian Army’s 1 Rashtriya Rifles (Mahar) battalion has been conferred with the second-highest peacetime Gallantry Medal Kirti Chakra posthumously for operation in Kulgam in J&K. The IAF received a total of 13 awards including five Yudh Seva Medals and seven Vayu Sena Medal. Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, who played a key role as flight controller during the aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27, has been awarded Yudh Seva medal.
Air Commodore Sunil Kashinath Vidhate, Gp Capts Yashpal Singh Negi, Hansel Joseph Sequeira and Hemant Kumar have also been awarded the Yudh Sewa Medal for the planning and execution of the Balakot aerial strikes on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camp in Balakot town of Khyber Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan. The seven IAF officers who have been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry include Gp Capts Saumitra Tamaskar and Pranav Raj, Wg Cdr Amit Ranjan, Squadron Leaders Rahul Basoya, Pankaj Bhujade, B Karthik Narayan Reddy and Shashank Singh. At least five Mirage fighter pilots, who were part of the operation to strike a Jaish-e-Mohmamed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan’s Balakot on February 27, were among the awardees.
The Army also got eight Shaurya Chakra awards and 98 Sena medals. The Navy got one Shaurya Chakra award. The officers who have received the award posthumously include Maj VS Dhaundial of 55 Rashtriya Rifles, Lance Naik Sandeep Singh of 4 Para (Special Forces), Rifleman Shive Kumar of 31 Rashtriya Rifles and Sepoy Brajesh Kumar of 22 Rashtriya Rifles. “We are very happy that Wing Comm Varthaman has been conferred with Vir Chakra,” said an IAF official. Varthaman, 36, was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat. Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan. Varthaman had suffered injuries while ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison during the aerial combat. A high-level medical board of the Indian Air Force has already cleared Varthaman to return to the fighter cockpit.
Days after he returned from Pakistan, Varthaman conveyed to the IAF brass his wish to resume flying at the earliest. IAF fighter jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot on February 26, nearly two weeks after the Pulwama terror attack. Pakistan retaliated on February 27 by attempting to target Indian military installations. The Gallantry Awards are announced on the eve of the Independence Day and Republic Day are given to the recipients in different investiture ceremonies. The Chakra series awards are given by the President while the remaining are given by the respective services during their different investiture ceremonies.