NF Bureau: On the eventful day of February 27, when Indian and Pakistani Fighter Jets were involved in a dogfight, leading to the loss of an IAF MiG 21 and a PAF F-16, another tragedy happened in Budgam near Srinagar. An Indian Air Force Mi17V5 helicopter crashed under mysterious circumstances. Six IAF were killed in the crash. A civilian was also among the casualties.
There is no doubt that Pakistan’s Fighter Jets were not linked to the crash, as it occurred 100 km away from the LoC where IAF and PAF Fighter Jets were involved in the dogfight. However, the air defence systems were on operational alert. It’s not yet known whether the chopper was inadvertently cleared for flight, ignoring the warnings or it was on a search and rescue mission. The official statement said it was on a “routine mission”.
A court of inquiry has been ordered into the crash and the report should be out in 10 days, as there is a strong pressure from the family of the pilots killed in the crash. According to eyewitnesses, there was a loud explosion and the chopper was blown into pieces. Experts doubt whether a crash of such magnitude occurs when there is a technical fault. And, the ground operators did not receive any radio call or message from the crew of a technical fault.
As the chopper crash coincided with the aerial battle between IAF and PAF Jets, there is an angle of suspicion that the Mi-17 may have been a victim of friendly fire in the Indian side itself. Only a detailed investigation would bring the truth.
Here are the Unsung Heroes who lost their life in Mi-17 Chopper Crash:
Squadron Leader Siddharth Vashisht – Siddharth was piloting the Mi-17. The 31-year-old was a fourth-generation member from his family in the armed forces. Siddharth Vashisht was commissioned into the Air Force in 2010. He hailed from Chandigarh. His wife Aarti is also a squadron leader.
Squadron Leader Ninad Mandvgane – Ninad had joined the IAF in 2009 and promoted as Squadron Leader in 2015. He is survived by his wife, a two-year-old daughter and parents. Ninad hailed from Nashik in Maharashtra. His wife Vijeta was very critical of media and war mongers. She also urged everyone to stop communal hatred.
Flight Engineer Vishal Kumar Pandey – Vishal had joined the IAF 14 years ago. He hailed from Varanasi. Vishal is survived by his wife, a six-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter.
Sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat – The 32-year-old Vikrant hailed from Bhadani village in Jhajjar district of Haryana. He had joined the IAF more than 12 years ago. He is survived by his wife, one-year-old son and four-year-old daughter.
Corporal Deepak Pandey – Deepak had joined the IAF 5 years ago. He hailed from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Deepak was the only child in the family. He is survived by his father and mother.
Corporal Pankaj Kumar – The 27-year-old Pankaj had joined the IAF in 2012 and was posted as a Corporal in Srinagar. He is survived by his father and mother.
Nation First News