A Dornier, Do-228, belonging to the Indian Navy Aviation Squadron 310, plunged into the sea 25 nautical miles off Goa Coast on Tuesday. The aircraft with Lt. Abhinav Nagori, Lt. Kiran Shekhawat and the Captain, Lt. Commander Kuldip Joshi aboard, took off from INS Hansa in Goa at 6:30PM on the evening of March 24 for a training mission. While the pilot was rescued by a fishing vessel about an hour after the mishap, the other two officers went missing for over 48 hours. However, the bodies of the missing naval officers were found in the fuselage of the crashed aircraft.
Commissioned into the Navy in 2010, Lt. Kiran Shekhawat was training to be an Observer- an Officer in charge of all sensors on board a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. She is the first Indian woman officer to die in the line of duty. Born to a Navy sailor, she also married a naval officer and an instructor in the Naval Academy at Ezhimala in Kerala. A part of the Navy Woman Officer Contingent, she also marched in the first ever all-woman officer contingent parade in this year’s Republic Day. Lt. Shekhawat gave her all to the Indian Navy by taking the unconventional route and serving in the ace Information Warfare squadron. Lt. Abhinav Nagori joined the Navy in July 2012 and was training to be a pilot. As it stands, his career ended even before it started.
Though the Navy has set up an investigation committee in order to ascertain the cause of the crash, this incident is certainly not the first of its kind. Coming just a few months after a naval ship sank off the coast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh killing one worker dead and four missing, the Dornier crash is the latest addition to the series of mishaps that have been haunting the Indian Navy.
The naval officers who have sacrificed their lives during this routine sortie are martyrs, yes, but it is shameful that the country could not save their precious lives. As J. J. Martin puts it, “Death is so terribly final, while life is full of possibilities.” Both the martyred officers who were still in their 20s have been denied the possibilities that life had to offer them. Out on a routine sortie, little did they know that a mere search and rescue exercise would be the last mission of their lifetime! Inducted into the Navy in the early 90s, 36 Dornier aircrafts are operated by the Navy, and this is the first ever accident involving a Dornier wherein an “aircraft has been lost.”
The officers who have lost their lives weren’t on a war. They were on a search and rescue exercise, training to better their expertise on the field. It is deeply poignant to note that they did not even get an opportunity to prove their worth. Who is responsible for the killings of these innocent officers?
Image Source: the Viewspaper