Wing Commander M Rana and Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal are the two pilots who lost their lives in MiG-21 fighter aircraft crash in Barmer, Rajasthan last evening. pic.twitter.com/khvm0QKRR9— ANI (@ANI) July 29, 2022
A Twitter user, @Sherbir, who was travelling via same flight, recounted the incident via a thread about what the family went through inside the plane.
He began the thread by sharing that Bal's family was sitting on his adjacent seats. The captain of the flight had requested the passengers to remain seated and allow the family disembark the plane in an efficient manner to pay respect for the sacrifice. Here's what happened after the announcement:
1. Captain had requested the passengers to remain seated but some of them denied.
Was on the @IndiGo6E flight from Delhi to Jodhpur. Flt Lt Bal’s family was sitting adjacent to me in row 3. As we landed the Captain requested everyone to remain seated to allow for the Bal family to disembark expeditiously. Everyone in row 1 & 2 disregarded the announcement 1/2— Sherbir Panag 🇮🇳 (@Sherbir) July 29, 2022
2. Had to "scream" to make the "tone-deaf" and "selfish" passengers sit down.
I and a few passengers had to scream at the top of our voices to make them sit down and allow the Bal family to pass. It was absolutely shocking to see one’s fellow country men and women behave in this tone deaf, selfish manner. Thats the reality of our respect for sacrifice 2/2— Sherbir Panag 🇮🇳 (@Sherbir) July 29, 2022
3. The captain himself stepped out to pay the respect.
Since I’ve seen some garbage in response to my tweets let me be clear - the @IndiGo6E captain and crew conducted themselves in a somber and respectful manner. The captain himself stepped out to pay his respects. The conduct of the passengers was of their own volition. 3/n— Sherbir Panag 🇮🇳 (@Sherbir) July 29, 2022
4. A passenger also made it clear that it has nothing to do with premium seats.
In fact after the captain’s announcement a co passenger even announced it again that the family lost their son to the nation. It has nothing to do with sitting on premium seats, it’s being inconsiderate or disregarding the captain’s command. Either is bad. 4/4.— Sherbir Panag 🇮🇳 (@Sherbir) July 29, 2022
This has divided netizens on the micro-blogging platform. Check out their reactions:
Many Twitterati slammed the behaviour of co-passengers and called them out for their "lack of insensitivity" towards the sacrifice of the martyr and his family.
Renowned TV journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted this:
This is horrible to read and really unfortunate. Easier to do faux patriotism on Twitter and TV than in life.
Shameful behaviour. People travelling by Air may have money but decency is least u wud find.— Hau bhiya🇮🇳 (@DhootYk) July 29, 2022
1. People remove safety belts as soon as the aircraft touches down.
2. Everybody stands up in the aisle even before the gate is opened.
It only shows lack of insensitivity towards the sacrifices made our men or coming forward to stand with grieving families. May be many could not understand purpose. Asking ppl to stand for 2 min silence as mark of respect was a better way to pay homage on board!
Moral values are near to zero in our country.— Sukhminder Singh (@sukhmindersing4) July 29, 2022
Sir! These are the people who will do “ghar ghar tiranga and would urge everyone to stand up for National Anthem in theatres but cannot extend the basic courtesy to an Armed Force personnel’s family. They will show their support on Social media— Shahab Jafri (@ShahabJafri55) July 29, 2022
Such uncouth,characterless people.
The real side of our society. Indifferent and callous! All talk of patriotism and respect to the martyrs is mere lip service.
In India, the respect of Bollywood Actors is higher than Indian Forces & their sacrifices.— Ankur🇮🇳™ (@unapologeticAnk) July 29, 2022
This is the truth...!!
It’s just so shameful. Least one can do is show them some kind of compassion nd empathy .— Lotus (@LotusBharat) July 29, 2022
We should teach our children to respect armed forces personnel,and we ,ourselves should set example when we come across any brave heart from our forces.— JKHATORE (@JKHATORE) July 29, 2022
When will people learn? The flight is not going to take off again with you in it. Have some respect and patience. https://t.co/buyHLTESdQ— Kavya Rao (@kavyarao) August 2, 2022
Some Twitter users felt otherwise.
absolutely do no agree with the tweet author here, he had no authority to yell at passengers who were well within their right to disembark— G (@rotikapdaghar) July 30, 2022
forcing someone to show respect is not the path we want to go down
let’s get down from our high horses
Did they know who the Bal family is and their reason for travel? If no, I don’t blame them.— Barkha Samnani (@bsamnani) July 29, 2022
Everyone has a family and things to catch up. Dont be so uptight about everything— Ajay singh (@Ajaysin56133476) July 29, 2022
Why didn't @IndiGo6E give the first row to them in the first place? They should have done better than this.— Dr Deepak Krishnamurthy (@DrDeepakKrishn1) July 29, 2022
May be a personal conversation with Row 1&2 passengers would have worked instead of announcements as most of frequent travellers do not listen to announcement. Yes, it’s disrespect to the family but even if they had to wait for 2 rows to go first it wouldn’t have mattered much.— Ajit Rai (@RaiAjit) July 30, 2022
According to The Statesman, late Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal was cremated with full military honours at his village Jindermelu in Jammu and Kashmir's RS Pura border belt on 30th of July. As per Hindustan Times, late Wing Commander Mohit Rana's funeral took place with full state honours in Chandigarh on the same day.
Meanwhile, according to Quint, the Indian Air Force has now decided to retire another squadron of the MiG-21 Bison aircraft by 30th of September this year. It will phase out the entire fleet by 2025, ANI quoted the IAF as saying.
"The 51 Squadron based out of Srinagar air base is being number plated on 30 September. After this, only three squadrons of the planes would be left in service and would be phased out by the year 2025."
Dubbed as the "flying coffin", MiG-21, the longest serving fighter plane of India, has crashed several times over the years. The report added that a total of six MiG-21s have crashed in the last 20 months.