R S Pura (Jammu)- Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal (27), killed in the MIG-21 crash, was cremated with full military honours in his native hamlet in Jammu and Kashmir’s R S Pura border belt on Saturday.
Thousands of locals, Indian Air Force (IAF) officers, members of the armed forces, police officers, bureaucrats and politicians cutting across political parties gathered to salute the braveheart as his family members bid a tearful adieu.
The IAF personnel offered a three-gun salute as his mortal remains was consigned to flames at his native Jinder Mehlu amid high pitched slogans – ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Advitiya Amar Rahe’ – by the people.
Earlier in the day, Bal’s mortal remains arrived in a service aircraft at the airforce station here. The cortege was escorted to his house by about a kilometre-long cavalcade of private vehicles and tricolour donned motorcyclists.
Air officer Commanding (AoC) Air Commodore G S Bhullar, Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner Avny Lavasa and Jammu Senior Superintendent of Police Chandan Kohli laid wreath on his mortal remains.
Since early morning, thousands of people had gathered at his home to bid adieu to their hero.
The IAF pilots — another being Wing Commander M Rana from Himachal Pradesh — were killed on Thursday night when their twin-seater MiG-21 trainer aircraft crashed during a training sortie near Barmer in Rajasthan.
Bal’s family members expressed regret saying he died while flying an “ailing” aircraft” instead of “fighting enemies”.
They urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to immediately retire the entire fleet of ageing MiG-21 jets so that no more lives are lost.
Several locals said Bal was a “new age role model” for their children and they were proud of his martyrdom.
One of them was Sanjay Singh, who is preparing for the National Defence Academy (NDA) examination gateway for candidates aspiring to join the defence forces.
Bal had celebrated his 27th birthday on July 18, the family members said.
He had joined the IAF in 2014 and was taught at Sainik School, Nagrota. His father Swaran Lal and uncle Karamveer have retired from the army.
His uncle said Bal had spoken to him over phone on Tuesday to congratulate his nephew Vaibhav on his 11th birthday.
Bal lived in a joint family with his grandparents, parents, uncles and their families.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.