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Friday, September 24, 2021

To ‘immortalise his sacrifice’, Moga village set up statue of IAF pilot who died in MiG-21 crash 

The villagers have installed a statue of the squadron leader, which they say is a tribute to the officer for saving many lives by flying the fighter jet till the village’s periphery and not crashing it into a populated area.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
Updated: September 13, 2021 9:09:47 am
The villagers say the pilot saved many lives by flying the jet till the village’s periphery and not crashing it into a populated area. (Express photo)

ON THE night of May 20, one of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG-21 Bisons, infamously called ‘flying coffins’, crashed into the open fields of Langeana Nawan village of Punjab’s Moga district, leaving squadron leader Abhinav Chaudhary (29) dead.

Back at his home in Meerut of Uttar Pradesh, the wheels of time stopped moving for his father Satendra Chaudhary and mother Satya Chaudhary. But almost six months later, a heartwarming gesture by the villagers has brought solace for the family.

The villagers have installed a statue of the squadron leader, which they say is a tribute to the officer for saving many lives by flying the fighter jet till the village’s periphery and not crashing it into a populated area.

Seeing their son’s statue, which has been installed at the bus stand of the village, Satendra, who recently visited Moga to unveil it, got emotional.

Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Satendra said that though he lost his son, he is now indebted to the villagers of Langeana Khurd who took this initiative to immortalise the sacrifice of his son.

“Even in our home state Uttar Pradesh, no statue of Abhinav has been installed yet. Some projects are in progress but Punjab is the first place where my son’s sacrifice has been honoured and the tribute that he deserved has been given to him. Now we have developed such a beautiful and heartwarming bond with Punjab that it feels like family. We feel we are deeply indebted to the village now as they did so much for our son,” said Chaudhary.

Chaudhary said that the MiG-21 crash killing his son was an accident and it would be wrong to blame anyone for it. “An enquiry by the IAF is on, but it would be to wrong to say that all MiG-21 planes should be scrapped immediately. If we phase them out all in one go, then strength of IAF will be affected. Most importantly, my son always used to say that he never saw the type/kind of plane he was flying, for him all were equally sacred and he flew to serve our country. I only want that now he be remembered fondly because he died serving his country.”

“From UP to Punjab, we have a unique link now — the one of humanity and compassion — as people of that village understood our pain and what it means to lose a child,” he said.

Villagers collected funds with contributions from village panchayat and NRIs and got the statue installed. “On the night of May 20 when the plane crashed, youths of our village assisted police and IAF in locating the pilot’s body. They were deeply inspired that instead of the crashing plane in a populated area, Abhinav Chaudhary flew till the periphery, else so many people might have died who were sleeping in their homes. He tried to eject later but the parachute did not work properly.

To immortalise his sacrifice for future generations, we thought of putting his statue in our village. We invited his family to unveil it and his father cried seeing the statue,” said Jagsir Singh, sarpanch of the village.

‘Squadron leader Abhinav Chaudhary…20 May 2021 Suratgarh ton raat 11 vaje udaan bhar ke abhiyaas karke waapis aaunde samey pind Langeana Nawan nu bachaundey shaheedi praapat kitti,’ reads the plaque, in a tribute to the deceased IAF pilot.

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