Abhinandan Varthaman, the Indian Air Force Wing Commander, will be the first recipient of the ‘Bhagwan Mahavir Ahimsa Puraskar’ instituted by the Akhil Bharatiya Digambar Jain Mahasamiti.
Piloting a Mig-21 Bison, Varthaman shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 with an R-73 air-to-air missile in a dogfight on 27 February, but his aircraft took a hit, and he had to eject and was eventually captured by Pakistan forces soon after as reported by Indian Express.
Varthaman was released on 1 March as a ‘peace’ gesture by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the wing commander at RR Hospital, where he is currently admitted.
The award which was instituted this year carries a cash prize of Rs 2.51 lakh, a memento and a citation, all of which will be presented to Varthaman on 17 April which coincides with Mahavir Jayanti.