A Pawan Hans chopper crashed in Arunachal Pradesh last Tuesday with three passengers on board. A search lasting for over seven days ended with the recovery of the mangled remains of the passengers, one of whom was the young deputy commissioner of Tirap district – Kamlesh Joshi.
The other two victims were Col (Retired) M.S. Brar, the pilot, and Rajeev Hoskote, the co-pilot.
When then Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu died in a similar crash (also involving a Pawan Hans copter) on April 30, 2011, a search-and-rescue mission took four days to find his body.
Even back then, there was hardly any coverage by our mainstream channels and press on the incident. And Khandu was a Chief Minister! This is why one should not be surprised at the almost negligible press attention to the latest crash.
Kamlesh Joshi, a 2010 batch IAS officer, would have celebrated his 32nd birthday this August 15. He had joined as the deputy commissioner of Tirap in 2013.
At the time of his death, the chopper was on its way to pick the DCs of Longding and Changlang who were to attend a meeting on August 6 in New Delhi.
But for the last seven days, while the CRPF and the army were busy carrying out the search-and-rescue mission, hardly anyone spoke about the tragedy. Rarely anyone mentioned the names of Joshi, Brar or Hoskote while they were missing.
This raises a question: Do we consider northeast an alien world?
The mortal remains of Kamlesh Joshi & 2 pilots reached at Mohanbari airport Dibrugarh pic.twitter.com/R43nrwLhWp
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— atanu bhuyan (@atanubhuyan) August 13, 2015
One must also note that this is the third such crash in Arunachal Pradesh involving a copter from the Pawan Hans fleet.
While Khandu died in the crash of a single engine, four seater, Eurocopter B8 provided by Pawan Hans, the copter that was carrying Joshi and the others was a Dauphin VT-PHK. Seventeen people had died in another Pawan Hans copter crash in Tawan in 2011.
Hindustan Times reports that Arunachal Pradesh has been long demanding the scrapping of the Pawan Hans helicopter service, which operates mainly in the northeastern states.
The Home Ministry bears 75 per cent of the cost of operations of the service, with the remaining paid for by the state governments.
But before dawn tomorrow, our news channels and mainstream press will have ‘masaledaar‘ content that would eventually overshadow all concerns about the safety of the Pawan Hans copters and relegate the memory of the the dead into the shadows.