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‘Ever-smiling’ Kiran’s life was all about the Navy — as was her death

Lt Kiran Shekhawat is the first woman Naval officer to die in an air crash.

dornier crash, navy plane crash, navy officers dead, dornier officers dead, Kiran Shekhawat, Abhinav Nagori, indian navy, plane crash, delhi news Lt Kiran Shekhawat and co-pilot Lt Abhinav Nagori were on board the Dornier aircraft that crashed Tuesday.

Lt Kiran Shekhawat’s life was all about the Navy — her death too. She was born to a Navy sailor, joined the Navy herself, and got married to a Navy officer. On Tuesday night, the 28-year-old also became the first woman Naval officer to die in an air crash.

Lt Shekhawat was an observer on board the Dornier surveillance aircraft that crashed around 20 nautical miles southwest of Goa. Her body and that of the co-pilot Lt Abhinav Nagori were recovered over the last two days, while the pilot Commander Nikhil Joshi was rescued by a fisherman.

On Friday, two days before Lt Shekhawat’s mortal remains would be laid to rest in full military honours, her friends remembered her as their “ever-smiling Kiran”, one who took the unconventional route, serving in the ace Information Warfare (IW) squadron.

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Dr Sandhya Pathak said she and Lt Shekhawat had studied together in Kendriya Vidyalaya-II in Vishakhapatnam. “Our fathers were together in the Navy, and both of us passed out of Class 12 in 2005 together. She went on to complete her BSc while I completed my MD. While many families opposed their girls joining the Navy, she was a brave girl who went ahead and signed up in 2010. She was a simple girl who would always be smiling,” Dr Pathak told The Indian Express.

Commissioned on July 5, 2010, Lt Shekhawat joined the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 310 — a premier IW squadron nicknamed Cobras.

Having been posted across various Naval stations in her five-year career, she was transferred to Goa last year. Being an expert on intelligence warfare, she was recording the environment, charts and sensors during the ill-fated training sortie three days ago.

Born in 1988 to a Master Chief Petty Officer, Lt Shekhawat worked with a private bank before joining the Indian Naval Academy (INA) in Ezhimala, Kerala. She got married about two years ago to a Naval officer Vivek Chhoker who was posted at the Academy.

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“His brother too is a Navy officer and the duo is famously known as the Chhoker brothers at INA,” a Navy official said.

Unlike Lt Shekhawat, Lt Abhinav Nagori from Udaipur was the first in his family to join the Navy. Nagori was commissioned in the Navy on July 25, 2012 after having spent six months in INA and completing a year of pilot training in the Air Force Academy.

“While Commander Joshi is stable and conscious, it is the death of his two juniors that adds to the tragedy of the incident,” an official said.

First published on: 28-03-2015 at 02:31:46 am
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