THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: M P Anil Kumar, 50, the MiG-21 pilot whose grit and fighting spirit made him an inspirational figure to hundreds after an accident left him paralysed neck-down, passed away in Kirkee, Pune, on Monday. He lived at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre run by the Armed Forces there.
Anil Kumar, who belongs to Chirayinkeezh in Thiruvananthapuram district, was diagnosed with cancer recently. The cremation will be held at the Bopodi Gas Shavadahini crematorium, Pune, on Wednesday.
Anil had shot to fame after he wrote an article _ with the pen clutched in his mouth _ titled ‘From Airborne to Chairborne.’ The autobiographical piece on his post-accident struggle had made it to school textbooks in Maharashtra more than a decade ago. It was inducted into the Class VIII textbooks in Kerala some years ago, though in an abridged form.
An alumnus of Sainik School, Kazhakootam, he was a motivational figure and a favourite of his batchmates. ‘’Our batch had our get-together in Pune in December because he could not travel. Most of us were turning 50 this year, and we had hired a bogie for our train journey. He remembered all of us,’’ recalls S D Prins, Anil Kumar’s batchmate and PRO, Kerala State Electricity Board. ‘’MP turned 50 this May 5,’’ he added.
The pilot’s life turned upside down at the age of 24 when he crashed his motorcycle on a barricade at the Pathankot Air Base. In ‘From Airborne to Chairborne,’ he remembers the ‘aftermath:’ ‘’My attempts to move my limbs were futile. The pain in the neck was excruciating and intensifying by the second. I was stumped for a moment, but quickly recovered to realise the seriousness and significance of my inability to get up.’’
Anil Kumar, son of the late Panchapakesan, former panchayat president, Chirayinkeezh, is survived by mother S M Kamalamma, brother Jayakumar and sisters Sheeja and Sheeba.