PALAMPUR (Himachal Pradesh): The family of the deceased Lieutenant Colonel Rajneesh Parmar, who lost his life in a chopper incident on the day of his birthday, on Saturday expressed disappointment over the delay in replacing the old helicopters.
"We will appeal to the government to replace the helicopters as they are taking a toll on our soldiers' lives. Even vehicles are replaced after every 15 years. Our child will never come back, but the lives of others can be saved with new equipment," said Ved Parmar, Rajneesh's uncle.
"He was a jolly fellow who was full of patriotism. He was also very driven to serve the nation, following his dad's footsteps he had joined the Army," added Parmar.
"This is an irreparable loss. It was actually his birthday yesterday. His mother called him up and then I talked to him too in the morning but he was busy. He just said -- Thanks Papa, I will speak to you in the evening," said Mukhtyar Parmar, father of Rajneesh.
"It is a big loss for us, but it happened in the service of the nation. That is the only consolation we can give ourselves," added Parmar, also a retired Air Force personnel, while talking to reporters here.
His father said 42-year-old Rajneesh has left behind his wife and a 12-year-old child, who studies in an Army school in Bikaner.
Rajneesh lost his life when an Indian Army Cheetah chopper crashed near Yongphulla in Bhutan on Friday in which its pilots including a Bhutanese Army Captain -- Kalzang Wangdi -- were killed.
The single-engine Cheetah helicopter of the Indian Army was on duty en-route from Khirmu in Arunanchal Pradesh to Yongfulla in Bhutan when it crashed near Yongphulla at about 1 pm, Army Spokesperson Col Aman Anand said.
The chopper belonged to Indian Army's 667 Army Aviation Squadron based in Misamari in Assam. The chopper was returning after a commitment with an Indian Army Major General posted with the Indian Army Military Training Team (IMTRAT) deployed in Bhutan, Indian Army sources said.
As a part of the arrangement between Indian and Bhutan, Bhutanese pilots have been training with the Indian Army since 2014-15.
Cheetahs are 1960 vintage choppers which have been in the Indian Army for the last over 40 years and several attempts to replace them have failed due to one reason or the other.