IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returns to his squadron in Srinagar
NEW DELHI: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan last month and returned to India two days later, has gone back to his squadron in Srinagar though he is on a four-week sick leave, official sources said on Tuesday.
Sources said Varthaman preferred to stay with his squadron in Srinagar than going to his family home in Chennai while on leave.
The IAF pilot went on leave around 12 days ago after security agencies completed a nearly two-week debriefing after his return from Pakistan.
“Varthaman could have gone to his family home in Chennai to spend time with his parents. But he chose to go to Srinagar where his squadron is based,” the sources said.
After his four-week sick leave period, a medical board will review his fitness to help the IAF top brass decide whether he can return to fighter cockpit as desired by him.
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.
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.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighters bombed 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 outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.