After seven members of the Indian Air Force and Army died in a chopper crash on Friday morning in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, images of their bodies wrapped in paperboards (cartons), lying on airport tarmac, have sparked concerns of disrespect.
The bodies were wrapped in plastic sacks and tied up in cartons that look like those of split ACs during transportation
Retired Lt. General H.S. Panag posted these images on Twitter this morning.
“Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday, to serve their motherland. India. This is how they came home,” he said.
On Friday, an Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed near Tawang, a remote mountainous town close to the Sino-India border, killing all seven military personnel on board. Five IAF personnel, including two pilots, and two armymen were killed when the Mi-17 V5 chopper crashed around 7 pm after getting airborne from a helipad North of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi.
“The helicopter was carrying supplies to a forward post of the Indian Army in the hilly terrain. The helicopter crashed close to the dropping zone and caught fire immediately,” he said.
The Russian-manufactured helicopter was carrying supplies to a forward post of the Indian Army in the mountainous region and was on its the second sortie of the day.
“The rescue operation was carried out at an altitude of almost 17,000 feet above sea level,” said Tawang SP M.K. Meena.
“All the bodies were brought to Khirmu helipad for medical formalities and flown to Tezpur airbase,” he added.
Panag also said that “Initially also proper body bags should have been used even if coffins could not reach there.”
The writing on one of the cartons says ‘WKDR Upadhyaya’; the mortal remains of deceased Wing Commander V. Upadhyay.
The five IAF deceased IAF personnel are Captain of the aircraft Wing Commander V. Upadhyay, Co-pilot Squadron Leader S. Tewari, Master Warrant Officer A.K. Singh, Sgt. Gautam Kumar and Sgt. Satish Kumar. The two Army personnel are Sepoy H.N. Deka and Sepoy E. Balaji.
The IAF spokesperson said a court of inquiry has been ordered to establish the cause of the accident.
Close to six hours ago, Jangchup Tibet Sempa posted on Facebook. The same images are seen with the bodies in cartons:
An ANI image from Guwahati last night shows the bodies in what seem to be plywood boxes: