It was all over social media timelines in Kerala. But soon after images of police personnel saluting those who helped rescue those in the crashed Air India Express flight AI-IX1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode on August 7, the Kerala Police has clarified that it was not an initiative of the department.
This was done at an individual level, a police officer who did not want to be named told ieMalayalam.com. Soon after the two images went viral, the department had started making discreet inquiries to verify if the pictures being circulated on social media were fake. They soon identified the person who was featured in the images: a civil police officer attached to the Malappuram police control room and on special duty in Karipur. Malappuram Superintendent of Police has asked for a report on the matter from the Circle Inspector of Police, Karipur.
However, the gesture had moved the people it was intended for. “It was a proud moment,” Fazal Puthiyakath, one of the first civilian volunteers at the crash site, told indianexpress.com.
The 32-year-old too wasn’t sure if it was an official gesture from the department when a lone police officer visited the two quarantine centres housing those who participated in the rescue efforts. Puthiyakath said: “He thanked us for what we did and said that he only has this heartfelt salute to give us.”
As many as 40 people helped authorities rescue people from the aircraft, an operation that lasted over three hours. Most of those who assisted in the rescue efforts had been asked to stay in quarantine since at least two of the passengers tested positive for Covid-19.
“There were hundreds who rushed to the spot and on behalf of them, we accepted the salute,” Puthiyakath said.
The photos of the gesture were widely shared on social media.
Kerala Police offers a Congratulatory Salute to the Brave Souls who were at the fore front of the rescue operation at the Plane Crash Site and who are under Quarantine currently #Malappuram #Kerala pic.twitter.com/JGdfS4XkMd
— Forum Keralam (FK) (@Forumkeralam1) August 9, 2020
However, many who came across the photos also thanked the local rescuers for their selfless and timely intervention.
Take a look at some of the reactions here:
The aircraft fell 35 feet after overshooting the runway at the Karipur airport before ramming into the airport perimeter wall. Eighteen persons, including pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Sathe and his co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar, were killed in the accident. The Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express aircraft was carrying 190 passengers as part of the Vande Bharat Mission.