Friday, September 03, 2021

Month after army chopper crash: A father’s painful wait for news, remains of son

Chandigarh: “Aaya hun to khaali haath nahin jaoonga (I will not go back empty handed),” says Harish Joshi, father of Capt Jayant Joshi, the co-pilot of the Army Aviation helicopter which crashed in Ranjit Sagar lake reservoir near Pathankot a month ago on August 3, and whose remains are yet to be located.

Speaking to The Indian Express on phone from Mamun Military Station, near Pathankot, where he along with his wife and elder son have been camping ever since they came to know about the crash, Joshi sounded tired and frustrated. His wife, who is a serving officer in the Military Nursing Service, and son have gone to New Delhi to look after her ailing mother.

“I asked to them go and spend some time with her mother. My wife’s health is also not in good condition as we have been waiting for the search operation in the reservoir to yield any results. My son was also under tremendous stress,” said Joshi.

Capt Jayant Joshi, 27, had been flying along with Lt Col AS Batth in the Advanced Light Helicopter-Weapon Systems Integrated (ALH-WSI) on a training sortie when the helicopter crashed into the lake on August 3 morning. Despite efforts by the Army, Navy and the NDRF teams the remains of Capt Joshi are yet to be found. The remains of Lt Col Batth were found on August 15 evening.

“It is a shame that for a country of our size and given the big names in industry that we have, we do not have any indigenous underwater equipment, which can be used to locate the wreckage and the remains of aircraft crew who may meet the same fate as Jayant and Lt Col Batth. Why has anyone sitting on seats of power not realised this? Is this for what our brave soldiers put their lives on line,” asked the despondent father.

Joshi was full of praise for the Indian Navy divers who are on the job trying to locate the wreckage and the remains. “They are doing a marvellous job, even putting their own lives at stake while trying to find the remains. I have nothing but praise for them. But they must have good equipment, which can help them in their task. We had been hearing of getting foreign help for the search operations but where is that? If there is equipment available with companies abroad then it should have been hired,” he said.

Joshi added that the divers have finally been able to make dives towards the wreckage and that this was a big development, which may lead to the remains of Jayant being found. “It was a matter of chance that the remains of Lt Col Batth were found just as operations were being winded down for the evening. Every day we are told that today the remains will be found positively and then by the evening the hope is lost,” he said.

03/09/21 Man Aman Singh Chhina/Indian Express

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