Cool down process of Wing Commander Varthaman concludes

Cool down process of Wing Commander Varthaman concludes

New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Army's R.R. hospital, who was captured by Pakistan during an aerial combat, in New Delhi, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (PTI Photo) (PTI3_2_2019_

The IAF and security agencies have completed a nearly two-week-long debriefing of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent around 60 hours in Pakistan after being captured during a dogfight on February 27, officials said.

They said the IAF pilot's medical treatment has also concluded and he will go on sick leave for at least three weeks before resuming duty.

A medical board to be constituted by the IAF will review medical fitness of Varthaman to help the IAF top brass decide whether he can return to fighter cockpit as desired by him, they said.

Varthaman underwent the debriefing sessions by the security agencies as part of a cooling down process.

He 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 an aerial combat. He downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan before his plane was hit.

Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.

In the national capital, the IAF pilot was first taken to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, a compact and specialised medical evaluation centre for aircrew of all the three services. Later he was brought to the Army's Research and Referral hospital.

After he was captured, Varthaman showed courage and grace in handling the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and people in general.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa met Varthaman separately on March 2 during which he apprised them about the mental trauma he was subjected to during his captivity in Pakistan.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.

The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.

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