NEW DELHI: In response to tweeted pictures showing the bodies of the seven military personnel- who died in an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday- wrapped in cardboard pieces, the army today said that an “aberration” has been made and it will not be repeated.
Top government officials also added that there was no time to bring body bags or coffins from a nearby base, because the bodies were lying in the open at the crash site and so best available resources had to be used.
Earlier today, Lt Gen H S Panag (retd.), who has commanded the northern and central commands when in service, tweeted pictures of the bodies of the military personnel (five from the IAF, including two officers, and two jawans from the army) wrapped in cardboard pieces, each held by what appears to be a pink coloured rope or cloth. He wrote on his Twitter handle, “Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday, to serve their motherland. India. This is how they came home.”
He also tweeted that proper military body bags must be used to transport bodies from forward locations until ceremonial coffins are available. The tweets and pictures generated some controversy over the matter.
Following the development, the army on its official Twitter handle, @adgpi, wrote, “Mortal remains of heptr (read as helicopter) accident in HAA (read as High Altitude Area) on 6 Oct 17, sent wrapped in local resources is an aberration.” The tweet contained a picture showing the remains of the soldiers kept in proper coffins, wrapped in the Tricolour. On Saturday, the IAF had also released such pictures.
A top government official, on the matter, said the first thing that had to be done was to remove the bodies from the crash site, adding that soldiers involved in the recovery process used the best resources available. The official explained that there was no time to bring body bags or coffins from a nearby base, because the bodies were lying in the open. The bodies were later brought to the nearest police post for registering a FIR and the police insisted on opening the boxes, leading to their disarrangement.
The bodies were given full military honours and sent to their families in coffins, draped in the national flag. In addition, the army tweeted, “Fallen soldiers always given full military honour. Carriage of mortal remains in body bags, wooden boxes,coffins will be ensured.”
Meanwhile, IAF Chief B S Dhanoa today said that the Mi-17V5 helicopter that crashed in Arunachal, killing the seven personnel, may have been caused due to its tail rotor coming off.
"Prima facie it appears that the tail rotor of the chopper had come off. It will not be proper for me to say why it came off as a court of inquiry has already been ordered to probe the crash," the IAF chief told reporters on the sidelines of an the Air Force Day parade in Hindon, UP.
Dhanoa added that there was no technical problem in the engine of the aircraft as the Mi 17 V5 fleet was still flying.
He added, "Notwithstanding the high intensity of our flying, we cannot afford to have accidents and lose valuable lives and assets. Our losses during peacetime is a cause of concern and we are making concerted efforts to prevent accidents and preserve our assets," he said.