A sojourn cut short by Mumbai blasts : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

A sojourn cut short by Mumbai blasts

A sojourn cut short  by Mumbai blasts

Photo for representation. File photo



Capt DPS Aujla (Retd)

THE early 1990s witnessed bonhomie between the three defence services. The three service chiefs — Gen SF Rodrigues, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri and Admiral L Ramdas — were coursemates at the Joint Services Wing (National Defence Academy). Their generosity towards each other was legendary. It was during this period that the Army transferred prime land in the national capital for the majestic naval officers’ mess on National Highway-8. It is another matter that the mess has since been dwarfed by the flyovers.

The three chiefs decided to spend holidays together at the Bangaram island resort in Lakshadweep. The pristine corals and crystal-clear waters, as seen by our PM recently, are a sight to behold. The chiefs’ itinerary was similar to that of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had visited the place with his family in the late 1980s.

Ships of the western fleet were designated for security cover and logistical support. I was detailed as a pilot of the Sea King helicopter to take them from Cochin to the ship and disembark them at Bangaram in the evening after a day at sea witnessing naval drills. The VIPs boarded the helicopter and we proceeded to the rendezvous point with the naval ship about 60 nautical miles westward. The weather radar was kept in the surface-mapping mode for early detection.

As I saw some surface contacts on the radar, the Navy chief, standing behind the pilots, quickly called in the female passengers to showcase the naval capability. It was akin to a schoolboy showing off his toys.

The next day was spent in helicopter visits to various groups of islands. The three chiefs and their wives, dressed in casuals and carrying fishing gear, were in a boisterous mood. In the evening, the helicopter returned to the ship after taking them to the Bangaram resort for the campfire.

As I was getting ready for dinner, there were frantic announcements for me to report to the bridge of the ship. The scene there was sombre. ‘There have been some developments in Mumbai and the chiefs have been ordered to rush back,’ the captain said. I argued that a dark-night landing on a small helipad with huge coconut trees and without any lights/references was clearly a mission impossible. It was changed to early morning. As we took off from the ship for Bangaram to transfer them to the tiny airstrip of Agatti, three Avro transport aircraft of the IAF were hovering overhead. The chiefs boarded the planes for their respective destinations.

Their trip had been cut short by a major terror attack. The Mumbai blasts of March 12, 1993, were a watershed for us, similar to what the 9/11 attacks meant for the Americans and air travel the world over.

#Indian Air Force #Indian Army #Indian Navy #Mumbai #National Defence Academy NDA


Top News

Three days before poll, top Naxalite among 29 killed in Bastar gunfight

Three days before poll, top Naxalite among 29 killed in Bastar gunfight Three days before poll, top Naxalite among 29 killed in Bastar gunfight

3 security men hurt | AK-47, Insas among arms seized | Modi ...

Supreme Court junks idea of physical counting of VVPAT slips

Supreme Court junks idea of physical counting of VVPAT slips

Says not practicable | Defers hearing till tomorrow — day be...

Pawan Kumar Tinu, Jagdeep S Kaka Brar on AAP’s Punjab list

Pawan Kumar Tinu, Jagdeep S Kaka Brar on AAP’s Punjab list

Saffron party fields Parampal Kaur Sidhu, Som Parkash’s wife


Cities

View All