Fighter Pilot from Jammu Kashmir Killed In Friday MiG Crash Cremated

SRINAGAR: Of the two Indian Air Force pilots who were killed in the tragic MIG-21 crash in Rajasthan, one is a resident of Jammu and Kashmir. Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal of Jammu and Wing Commander M Rana from Himachal Pradesh were killed in the accident involving a twin-seater Mig-21 training plane Friday evening near Barmer in Rajasthan.

Advitya Bal IAF Pilot was killed in a MiG crash on July 29, 2022, in Rajasthan.

“A twin seater Mig-21 trainer aircraft of the IAF was airborne for a training sortie from Utarlai air base in Rajasthan this evening. Around 9:10 pm, the aircraft met with an accident near Barmer,” the IAF said in a statement. “Both pilots sustained fatal injuries. The IAF deeply regrets the loss of lives and stands firmly with the bereaved families.”

Mortal remains of Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal reached his native place in RS Pura Jammu earlier today, where thousands gathered to pay their last respects to the deceased.  A wreath laying event was organized at Air Force Station, Jammu. Air comrade GS Bhullar, AOC Jammu, and Divisional commissioner Jammu among other senior military and civil dignitaries attended the ceremony.

Bal, 26, was a resident of Jinder Mehlu, a village on the India-Pakistan border. Shocked that they had celebrated his 26th birthday on July 16, the family is inconsolable. An alumnus of Sainik School Nagrota, Bal joined the National Defence Academy (NDA). His father, Swarn Lal has served the Indian army as an officer.

A senior IAF officer consoling the father of fighter pilot Advitya Bal in R S Pora. Bal was one of the two pilots killed in a MiG crash in Rajasthan on July 29, 2022

Expressing his regret over the incident, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has reached out to Twitter to pay his condolences to the bereaved.

“Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal was a budding fighter pilot from Jammu. In this moment of grief, my thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families,” Sinha said.

While the reasons behind the crash are still unknown, a Court of Inquiry has been ordered by the authorities to ascertain the cause of the accident.

The RS Pora family flew to Rajasthan the same day to receive his body. Sherbir Panag, son of former Lt Gen HS Panag was also flying in the same flight. “Was on the @IndiGo6E flight from Delhi to Jodhpur. Flt Lt Bal’s family was sitting adjacent to me in row 3. As we landed the Captain requested everyone to remain seated to allow for the Bal family to disembark expeditiously. Everyone in row 1 & 2 disregarded the announcement,” the financial crimes and corporate governance lawyer wrote on Twitter.  “I and a few passengers had to scream at the top of our voices to make them sit down and allow the Bal family to pass. It was absolutely shocking to see one’s fellow countrymen and women behave in this tone-deaf, selfish manner. Thats the reality of our respect for sacrifice.”

Meanwhile, the IAF has already ordered a court of inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident. Bal’s family has appealed to defence minister Rajnath Singh to immediately ground the Soviet-era fighter jets “because they have already taken away so many lives.”

With at least 400 crashes in the last 60 years, the incident has again brought to light the infamy earned by MiG-21 Bison, which is often dubbed as ‘widow maker’ or flying coffins.

Most of the 70-odd MiGs in operation are barely 30-35 years old and the IAF plans to phase them out by 2025.

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