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 Tuesday.
They 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.
Abhinandan 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 review board will assess the medical fitness of Abhinandan and decide on when he can resume his operations as a fighter pilot.
Abhinanadan had earlier conveyed to the IAF brass that he wants to return to the cockpit as soon as possible.
Wing Commander Varthaman has been undergoing medical treatment at Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi.
He underwent several debriefings by security agencies for a couple of days. He was also subjected to various medical tests as part of a cooling down process.
The IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistani Army on Wednesday 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 arrived in the national capital by an IAF flight at around 11:45 pm on Friday, nearly two-and-half hours after he crossed over to India through the AttariWagah border. The IAF pilot was first taken to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME), a compact and specialised medical evaluation centre for aircrew of all the three services. Later he was brought to the Army’s Research and Referral hospital.
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.
Varthaman became the first IAF pilot to shoot down an F-16 fighter jet during an aerial combat with the Pakistani Air Force.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror 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 terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing over 44 soldiers.