Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday urged the Centre to confer Param Vir Chakra – the highest military honour – on Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 during an aerial combat after it violated Indian airspace in Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir last week. (ALSO READ – IAF Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to be a Introduced in Rajasthan School Syllabus)

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Palaniswami wrote, “Abhinandan displayed amazing poise and confidence in the face of adverse conditions, which has won him many hearts across the country. It is appropriate that he be awarded India’s highest military honour Param Vir Chakra for displaying most inimitable gallantry and valour.” (ALSO READ – It’s Good to be Back: IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan’s First Reaction on Return to India)

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was held captive by Pakistani authorities on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison went down during a dogfight with Pakistani jets, returned to India on the night of March 1. Before his plane was hit, he shot down an F-16 of Pakistan air force. He was also manhandled by a crowd after he landed in a village in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

His release from over 60 hours captivity came a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament that he would be released as a ‘peace gesture’. However, India disagreed to his claim stating that it was a gesture in consonance with all Geneva conventions.

The IAF pilot’s family hails from Tirupanamoor village in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu. His father S Varthaman is a retired Air Marshall and mother, Shobha Varthaman, a well known doctor. They currently live in one of the colonies for serving and retired Air Force officers located on the outskirts of the city.

As per the central government, Param Vir Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea, or in the air.