Mysterious lights flickering in the night sky on Monday in Junagadh, Upleta, and nearby regions of Saurashtra in Gujarat have left residents excited and perplexed. Videos of these events have gone viral on social media.
In Upleta town in Rajkot district, people heard a loud boom, followed by burning objects appearing to fall from the sky but blazing out before they could hit the ground.
“I was leaving a shop in Kutubkhana when I heard a loud sound, like some kind of explosion. When I looked around, I saw ablaze objects falling down, but burning out in the air,” Laxman Bhopala, 48, a farmer who lives on Yadav Road in Upleta, told The Indian Express. He was among those who took videos of the incident on his phone.
Upleta mamlatdar GM Mahavadiya said he too heard the boom, like an “aeroplane flying”, “followed by a loud explosion”. While Mahavadiya did not see the burning objects, he heard of them from other people.”We have not received reports of anything suspicious having fallen to the ground anywhere,” he said.
According to Mahavadiya, people in neighbouring Manavadar and Keshod of Junagadh district also reported hearing the boom. “I suspect it could be a fighter jet of the Indian Air Force, though we do not have an official word from defence authorities. Jets often fly in Upleta skies after taking off from the Jamnagar airbase,” said Mahavadiya.
GV Miyani, sub-divisional magistrate of Dhoraji, whose jurisdiction covers Upleta taluka, said his office had reported the matter to higher authorities. “While no damage has been reported from anywhere, it created excitement and some panic among people. We do not have any communication from defence agencies so far of a training exercise or routine sortie. However, we have reported the matter to higher authorities,” said the SDM.
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Nishant Gor, founder member of Bhuj-based Star Gazing India Club, said the most likely explanation was that the lights were flares deployed by a fighter aircraft on a sortie. “There are a lot of possibilities. It could have been a meteor or satellite debris. But after analysing all the videos we sourced from the event on Monday night and talking to locals in Junagadh and Upleta, we came to the conclusion that these are flares from a fighter aircraft. Secondly, people in Upleta heard a sonic boom, which also suggests the presence of a fighter aircraft,” Gor said.
Routine sorties are usually undertaken by fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force from the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat. Defence sources say that while the sonic boom heard on Monday night would have been caused by an aircraft, they are unable to explain the lights seen in the videos.
Officials say that while the presence of fighter aircraft in the region over Upleta and Junagadh is not new, the lights seen flickering in the videos are not the lights that emanate from jet engines or flares deployed by aircraft.
No official probe has been ordered yet by the Gujarat government or the IAF, sources said.