Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to IAF Flight Lieutenant Mohit Kumar Garg (27), who was killed along with 12 others in the AN-32 crash in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3, at his family home in Patiala’s Samana town where he was cremated with full military honours Friday.
“For him, flying was living and living was flying. He was crazy about it, simply mad. We trained together, since the beginning of the NDA. The only thing he would talk about was flying. He was so skilled at it,” said Mohit’s colleague and batchmate from the National Defence Academy (NDA), who escorted his mortal remains.
His WhatsApp status — ‘fly to live’ — offered some solace to his grief-stricken family that he died doing what he loved.
A long wait of 18 days came to an end as the flight lieutenant was brought home wrapped in the tricolor. Mohit’s father Surinderpal and mother Salochna Devi broke into tears as his coffin arrived but his wife Aastha stood numb.
Seated in a wheelchair, Salochna Devi wept as the IAF troops marched and paid tributes. “Why has he left her (Aastha) alone. This is wrong Mohit…,” she said, in tears.
Hundreds walked along the washed road outside Aggarsain Colony and escorted the IAF vehicle to the cremation ground, shouting out slogans like ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Shaheed Mohit Amar Rahe’, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’…
At the cremation ground, Flying Commander of 43 Squadron, Group Captain M Abhimaan, handed over Mohit’s medals and cap, wrapped in a tricolor to Aastha with a salute.
Later, Mohit’s elder brother Ashwani lit the pyre after a wreath-laying ceremony and gun salute by the IAF.
‘I am a soldier’s wife, I will not cry’
A heartbroken Aastha, sitting next to Mohit’s photograph, tightly held on to his cap and medals. “I am a soldier’s wife. I will not cry…,” she said.
The couple had gotten married in February last year and Aastha, a banker from Jalandhar, had moved to Jorhat in Assam.Speaking to The Indian Express, Sahil Gupta, Aastha’s brother said, “He used to say that there are two aspects of his job — on the ground and another in the sky — and what he loves is the second one. He was very particular about his IAF uniform. Not a thing had to be here or there. It had to be just perfect…”
Father wants a memorial, nothing more
Surinderpal Garg often broke down at the funeral, only to be comforted by family members. “Oh jazbaati si…desh di sewa karan layi…ohne apna raasta khud chuneya… (He had a passion to serve the country. He chose his own path…),” he said, adding that he never forced Mohit to enter the family business. “The government or the IAF is not responsible for my son’s death. He has died serving his country. All that I want from the government is a memorial in his name…be it a school or anything else…” he added.
Colony street named after Mohit, board erected
A board saying ‘Flight Lt Shaheed Mohit Garg Street’ was erected Friday outside the street leading to Mohit’s home at Aggarsain Colony. All main markets and factories remained closed in Samana till the cremation got over. Cabinet minister Vijay Inder Singla and Samana MLA Rajinder Singh attended the funeral.