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IAF promotes Balakot air strike operations hero Abhinandan to Group Captain rank

NEW DELHI: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who downed a Pakistan jet during an aerial combat in February 2019 and was held captive for three days, has been promoted to the rank of Group Captain.

“He had cleared his board and now he has been promoted. All who had cleared the board have been promoted,” said a government official.

Wing Commander Varthaman is a Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest war time gallantry medal, awardee.

He was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27, 2019 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets. Before his jet was hit, he downed a Pakistani F-16 fighter.

The ‘Balakot Air Strike’ was carried out at terror camps at Balakot of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in response to the deadly Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.

It was the first aerial assault carried out by India in Pakistan after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

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