Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to confer the Param Vir Chakra on Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. Pakistani F-16 aircraft had shot down Varthaman’s MiG-21 jet inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 27, and he was captured. Pakistan released Varthaman on March 1.
“Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman displayed amazing poise and confidence in the face of adverse conditions, which has won him many hearts across the country,” Palaniswami wrote, according to PTI. “It is appropriate that he be awarded India’s highest military honour Param Vir Chakra for displaying most inimitable gallantry and valour.”
“Abhinandan was released by Pakistan on March 1 due to the diplomatic initiatives of the prime minister and international pressure,” he added, according to The Times of India. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had claimed that Varthaman was released as an overture of peace to India.
Varthaman’s aircraft was shot down during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani planes on the Line of Control. Pakistani jets violated the Line of Control a day after the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The attack was a response to a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force soldiers.