IAF braveheart hails from family of military veterans

IAF braveheart hails from family of military veterans

Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman in Pak custody. AFP/ISPR

Wing Commander V Abhinandan, who is currently in the custody of Pakistan, is a third-generation officer from a family whose members have served in the Indian armed forces for long. The Wing Commander’s father retired from the Indian Air Force (IAF) as Air Marshal in 2012, and was a highly decorated officer.

The serving officer’s grandfather also served in the IAF, making him the third-generation officer from the family, his relative said.

Abhinandan’s family hails from Tirupanamoor village in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu and his father and mother currently live in one of the colonies that house serving and retired air force officers on the outskirts of this city. Records accessed by DH show that Abhinandan’s wife was also an officer with the Indian Air Force who retired as a squadron leader.

According to his relatives, the officer joined the IAF in 2004 and was trained at Tambaram air base here. The officer, who is an avid reader, an excellent speaker and a lover of the MiG-21, a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, lives with his wife and child in Bengaluru.

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As videos of Abhinandan in Pakistani custody went viral on social media, frenzied media personnel tried to reach the family members in vain.

Entry to the colony, where the officer’s father and mother live a quiet life after retirement, was closed a little after 3.30 pm and only those living inside were allowed after due checks. Police personnel have been posted at the colony and even Varthaman’s relatives were not allowed to meet them.

“We are not being allowed to meet Varthaman. He is my aunt’s son and the family hails from Tirupanamoor village near Kancheepuram. We came here after seeing his videos on television channels. We hope Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensures that Abhinandan is brought back safely,” a relative who identified himself as Kunthanathan said.

His father S Varthaman, who retired in 2012 and was heading the high-powered panel appointed by the defence ministry to examine different aspects of the multi-billion dollar fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project, is a decorated officer who was part of the action in Kargil in 1999. He appealed to the media not to contact him regarding his son and respect the family’s privacy.

The retired officer was also associated with ace director Maniratnam in his film Kaatru Veliyidai that narrates the story of an Indian pilot who reminisces his romance with a doctor while being held prisoner of war in Pakistan.

Chennai Police Commissioner A K Vishwanathan also visited the family and reviewed the security arrangements outside their residence.