September 23, 2021 6:13:40 am
MaJOR ANUJ Rajput (27) of Army Aviation Corps, one of the two pilots to have perished in a chopper crash in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district on September 21, was laid to rest on Wednesday at Panchkula’s Sector 20 crematorium with full military honours, including a gun salute.
Major Rohit Kumar and Major Anuj Rajput were on a training sortie when their Cheetah helicopter crash-landed in Shiv Garh Dhar near Patnitop. Both pilots succumbed at Command Hospital, Udhampur where they had been evacuated for treatment.
Major Anuj’s father, KS Arya, an advocate, lit the funeral pyre of his only son in presence of senior officers of the Army, district administration and a large number of local residents.
As the flames of the pyre slowly crept up, an emotional Captain Ashish Batra, Major Anuj’s close friend for the past 10 years remembered their time together at the NDA. “I was six months senior to him, but he always had the larger presence. Even though we lived in different quarters, we would see each other everyday. When he came to IMA, I was the first person he and his family met. We had been close ever since,” said Batra.
The two were commissioned to the same unit from IMA, Dehradun, and remained together for more than 4 years. “In our first posting, we were sent out to Uri. It was a highly active zone. But often we would find our quiet spot between Baramullah and Uri to reflect on the nuisances of life,” remembered Batra.
Speaking highly of the accolades Major Anuj earned at an early age, Batra recounted, “During the very first posting, he was sent to Roshni post- a bunker on the Line of Control which overlooks Pakistan — for six months. It was after this that he opted for IAF and topped his course from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). He even received the Silver Cheetah Trophy for the same, which his father proudly shows off to this day.”
“Major Anuj was extremely passionate about joining the IAF. Despite opposition from his mother, whom he held in very high regard, he chose to go for it. He even got a laser eye surgery done for the same. He opted for teh air force because he wanted to fly everyday,” said Batra.
Volunteering for operations, strict towards his juniors in sensitive areas, and emotional for his mother — these were the words that define Major Anuj the best, Batra added.
“He was very strict with juniors being commissioned to Uri, since it was a very active and sensitive zone. Any lapses would mean grave danger. But if he would get a call from his mother while he was scolding his juniors, he would simply walk aside. When he returned, he would be a new person suddenly. I still remember how he always said ‘hello mumma’ as soon as he picked her call, taking on the tone of a little boy. I can still hear that voice,” Batra said.
But his emotions disappeared when it came to his duty. “He was always the yes man. He would infact volunteer for any operation. He would plan and strategise with great depth. He was bravest of the brave.”
Born on September 18, 1993, Anuj had just turned 28 a few days back. His fiancé, who he was recently engaged to on July 23, had also reached his unit to celebrate their birthdays together, which both fall on September 19. His fiance was born on September 19 and Mjor Anuj was born on September 18.
“She is distraught and in shock. They were to wed soon. She had returned on September 20 only. Initially, when she could not contact him, she thought he must be on a posting where there was no network,” says Batra.
Major Anuj after his first posting at Uri for three years, had spent sometime in Ferozpur, after which he had opted for the aviation course which took him to Nasik and Bangalore for 6 months each. After that he had remained posted at Udhampur for the last four years. He had only recently been promoted to the rank of a Major.
On Wednesday, Major Anuj Rajput’s body was brought to his house in group housing society 104 in Sector 20, after the wreath-laying ceremony in Udhampur.
His remains were then taken to the Sector 20 crematorium. Haryana Speaker and local MLA, Gian Chand Gupta, expressed his grief at the loss and offered condolences to the family.
He said, “We are stunned that Panchkula’s son, who dedicated his life to the country, has left us at such a young age. I have no words to express the pain. My prayers are with the parents whose loss can’t be comprehended. We are proud of our bravehearts.”
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