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A Year On, Budgam Crash Deceased’s Kin Say ‘Not Given Importance’

Families of the deceased continue to run from pillar to post for the compensation they were promised.

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman & Ashutosh Bhardwaj

It’s been a year since the Mi-17 IAF helicopter crashed in Budgam, on 27 February 2019, killing six IAF personnel on board and a civilian on the ground. Later, the Indian Air Force admitted the crash had been caused by one of their own ground-based missile, which had shot it down.

The deceased’s kin are still running from pillar to post for the compensation they were promised. They further hope bravery awards are proffered to the deceased.

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The crash occurred a day after the Balakot airstrike and tensions between India and Pakistan were boiling. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan on the same day.

Families of those killed in the Mi-17 crash rue that amid the prevailing circumstances in the country, the Budgam crash did not get the importance it had deserved.

“They too were serving the country. However, the atmosphere was such that other things got more attention. They just showed it as a tiny fault and reduced the entire incident to that.”
Ajay Singh, Pankaj Kumar’s Brother

A few months after the incident took place, a probe revealed that the helicopter was shot down by a ground-based missile of the IAF. The IAF Chief said it had been a ‘big mistake’ on their part.

The families of the deceased haven’t received all that was promised to them by the government and the Indian Air Force.

“We’ve approached them, and they keep saying they will do it, but they don’t. Work that the district administration had promised to do, was not done. Work from the Air Force’s end was done.”
Ajay Singh, Pankaj Kumar’s Brother

They hope the deceased get some recognition.

“They’ve done an act of bravery. He should certainly be accorded the title of ‘martyr’. He should also get the Param Vir Chakra.”
Vijay Shankar Pandey, Pankaj Kumar’s Father

(With inputs from Rizavana Tabassum in Varanasi.)

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