Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman 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.
He was captured by Pakistan last month and returned to India two days later. After security agencies completed a nearly two-week debriefing after his return from Pakistan, the IAF pilot went on leave around 12 days ago.
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 board will review his fitness to help the IAF top brass decide whether he can return to fighter cockpit as desired by him.
He was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 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.
On the night of March 1, Varthaman was released by Pakistan.
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.
On February 26, after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot, deep inside Pakistan, tensions between India and Pakistan escalated. The next day, Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations. 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. The terror attacked led to the martyrdom of 40 soldiers.
(With PTI inputs)