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I swear by our dear dog,Ma,I am safe: officer on crashed Sukhoi

“I panicked a bit when I heard about the crash. But around 1 pm I managed to contact Siddharth and he said he was safe,” said Aparajita Munje,mother of Wing Commander S V Munje (35)...

Written by SiddharthKelkar | Pune |
May 1, 2009 1:38:06 am

“I panicked a bit when I heard about the crash. But around 1 pm I managed to contact Siddharth and he said he was safe,” said Aparajita Munje,mother of Wing Commander S V Munje (35),who survived the Sukhoi crash on Thursday morning.

“I was initially not entirely convinced by what he was trying to tell me,but then he swore by his beloved German Shepherd Simba,” she said at her home on Prabat Road.

Munje’s wife Manisha,who lives with him at the Air Force colony in Lohegaon,was not ready to speak.

Siddharth’s mother said her feelings were mixed. “I am relieved my son has survived but also sad at Wing Commander P S Narah’s death. The nation has lost a trained pilot,” she said.

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She had heard of the crash from her brother Vikram Gokhale,a renowned actor. “I was outside the house then. The moment I heard,I rushed back home,” said Siddharth’s mother.

“Soon I got a call from my son-in-law,Col Ashish Kashyap,a test pilot with the Indian Army. He was on his way back to Pune from Mahabaleshwar with my daughter and grandson. He told me not to panic,” she said.

“There was only one line coming on the news channels,that one pilot was seriously injured. When I got confirmation that Siddharth was injured,I tried to call him and finally got through.”

Till late there was no official communication from the Air Force,she said.

Siddharth studied at Sainik School in Satara and then joined the NDA,passing out in 1994. He has been posted in Pune for two years. He has been flying the Su-30MKI for more than four years.

His maternal grandfather was legendary actor Chandrakant Gokhale,who used to save money to donate to the Army. Even in his eighties he preferred walking to save on rickshaw fare and donate to the Army. “My father was proud when Siddharth joined the Air Force,” Aparajita Munje said.

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