Mortal remains of 1968 plane crash victim recovered
By Harpreet Bajwa | ENS | Published: 01st September 2013 08:58 AM |
After 45 years, the expedition of Durga Scouts of Western Command has led to the recovery of mortal remains of a non-commissioned officer.
The body of Hav Jagmail Singh of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers from Dhakka Glacier, was found at the Chander Bhaga Ranges of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.
The mortal remains would be brought to Chandimandir Military Station on Sunday from where it would be taken to his native village Meerpur in Rewari for last rites, with full military honours. His identity disk, an insurance policy and a letter from his family were retrieved from his pocket.
On a freezing February morning in 1968, as dawn broke over Chandigarh, an AN-12 transport aircraft took off from the fog-enveloped runway and headed towards Leh. On board the aircraft were 98 army personnel and four crew members on their way to join their duties. Halfway to Leh, the pilot, Flt Lt HK Singh, decided to turn back owing to inclement weather over Jammu and Kashmir. The aircraft made last radio contact near the Rohtang Pass and thereafter appeared to have vanished into thin air.
The disappearance remained a mystery until 2003, when the debris of the ill-fated aircraft was accidentally discovered by an expedition team at the Dhakka Glacier, high in the Chander Bhaga Ranges of Lahaul and Spiti.
Since then, and over the course of three search missions till 2009, four bodies were recovered. The Army embarked on another expedition on August 16, to try and locate the mortal remains of its fallen comrades as also to try and recover the Flight Data Recorder (Black Box).
The expedition of the Durga Scouts comprised the finest mountaineers of the country, including an ‘Everester’. The glacier, where the operations were underway, was at an altitude of approximately 17,000-18,000 ft and avalanche prone and dotted with innumerable crevasses. The site itself was at an 80 degree gradient from the base camp.