MiG-21 Crash: Pilot Advitiya Bal Cremated in Jammu; Thousands Pay Tribute
Another IAF pilot, Wing Commander M Rana, was also killed after the twin-seater trainer plane crashed in Rajasthan.
Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal, who died in the MiG-21 crash in Rajasthan's Barmer on 28 July, was cremated with full military honours in Jammu and Kashmir's RS Pura border belt on Saturday, 30 July.
Thousands of locals, Indian Air Force (IAF) officers, members of the armed forces, police officers, bureaucrats, and politicians from across the spectrum gathered to pay their respects.
Accompanying the three-gun salute by IAF personnel were high-pitched slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Advitiya Amar Rahe.'
Earlier in the day, Bal's mortal remains arrived in a service aircraft at the airforce station. The funeral procession, on its way to his house, was escorted by private vehicles and motorcyclists donning the tricolour.
The IAF pilots, Bal and Wing Commander M Rana from Himachal Pradesh, who were onboard the twin-seater trainer aircraft, lost their lives when it crashed near Rajasthan's Barmer.
A day after the incident, the Indian Air Force decided to retire another squadron of the MiG-21 Bison aircraft by the end of September.
The Soviet-origin jets, first introduced by the air force in 1963 to increase its combat ability during the Cold War, have gained the reputation of being a "widow maker" and "flying coffin" over the years due to their accident-prone nature.
In March, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhat had stated in the Rajya Sabha that 42 defence personnel were killed in accidents involving aircraft and helicopters of the three services in the last five years.
The total number of air accidents in the last five years was 45, out of which 29 involved IAF's platforms.
Who Were the Pilots?
An alumnus of Sainik School Nagrota, he later joined the National Defence Academy (NDA). His father, Swarn Lal, is also a former Indian Army officer.
Wing Commander M Rana, who was a resident of Sandhol in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, was killed along with Bal. Rana's father Ramprakash retired from the army as a colonel. His family, currently living in Chandigarh, is likely to perform his last rites in Chandigarh itself.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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