Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent 60 hours in Pakistani captivity after shooting down an intruding Pak F-16 fighter jet last month, should be conferred with the Param Vir Chakra, the country's highest military honour, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who is from Tamil Nadu, "displayed amazing poise and confidence in the face of adverse condition and it would be appropriate that he be awarded the highest military honour for displaying most inimitable gallantry and valour", the chief minister wrote in his letter.
"I request the Government of India to confer the nation's highest military honour, Param Vir Chakra, on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman," the letter reads.
Param Vir Chakra "is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea, or in the air," according to the centre.
Pakistani jets had crossed the Line of Control to target Indian military installations on February 27, a day after India sent fighter planes into Pakistan for the first time in decades and targeted a training facility of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror strike in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was among the Indian Air Force pilots that engaged the Pakistani fighter jets, in the first aerial combat between the neighbours in nearly 50 years. In the dogfight, Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a F-16 jet, but his MiG-21 Bison too was downed and he had to eject and landed across the Line of Control, where he was captured.
He was released in less than three days by Pakistan amid international pressure.
The pilot's homecoming, which inspired many hashtags on social media, was celebrated across the nation with politicians, celebrities and others saluting his grace and courage in the most dangerous circumstances.
Abhinandan Varthaman, who comes from a family of decorated fighter pilots, became for many a symbol of hope and the easing of tension between India and Pakistan after their biggest standoff in years.
With inputs from PTI
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