Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be the first recipient of the 'Bhagwan Mahavir Ahimsa Puraskar' instituted by the Akhil Bharatiya Digambar Jain Mahasamiti, a functionary of the organisation said on Sunday. Varthaman, piloting a Mig-21 Bison, shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 with an R-73 air-to-air missile in a dogfight on February 27 before his aircraft took a hit and he had to eject.
He was captured by Pakistan forces soon after and was released on March 1. The award for the fighter pilot was announced in New Delhi by the organisation's chairperson Manidra Jain, said its Maharashtra chapter convener Paras Lohade in Nashik.
The award, instituted this year, carries a cash prize of Rs 2.51 lakh, a memento and a citation and will be presented to Varthaman on April 17, coinciding with Mahavir Jayanti, Lohade said.