The Indian Air Force has decided to transfer Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from the Srinagar airbase where he was posted amid concerns over his security in the Kashmir Valley.
The officer has been shifted to an airbase in the Western sector along the Pakistan border. A series of tests over the next month and a half will reportedly decide if he can fly a fighter again.
“The posting order of the officer has been issued and he would soon be moving out of the Srinagar airbase to his new place of posting,” said government sources.
The name of the new base is being withheld due to security reasons. It is also a fighter base and if the officer is cleared for flying, he will take up his flying duties, they added.
Meanwhile, the IAF has reportedly recommended Varthaman’s name for the Vir Chakra, a wartime gallantry medal, for shooting down an F-16 fighter jet in a skirmish with the Pakistan Air Force.
Varthaman 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.
The skirmish took place a day after India conducted cross-border air strikes at Balakot on February 26. Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet, was captured and remained in custody across the border for two days.
In a “goodwill gesture”, Varthaman was released by Pakistan and came back to India on March 1.
After his return, he had gone back to his squadron in Srinagar though he was then on a four-week sick leave. According to army sources, Varthaman had preferred to stay with his squadron in Srinagar than going back to his family home in Chennai while on leave.