BENGALURU: “Air Commodore Parvez Hamilton Khokhar was an outstanding pilot and a fine officer. I sincerely hope that the case is cracked as soon as possible,” said former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (Retd) S Krishnaswamy.
Khokhar was found murdered at his residence in a gated community on Monday, which has shocked the public and the defence community at large. Express spoke to the late Commodore’s friends and peers to gain an insight into the highly decorated war veteran’s life.
“When he joined the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme as a project director, it was still nascent and at an important stage in its development, which he executed very well. A thorough professional, he was also very firm in his views,” Krishnaswamy told Express.
Apart from being an ace pilot, Khokhar also proved himself in a diplomatic assignment as defence attaché in Pakistan, said the former Air Chief.
“He was my boss for two years (1999-2001), and I know him as a person who truly believed in the motto ‘work hard, play hard.’ He was objective, assertive, and did not mince words when it came to voicing his opinions. Though he was quite demanding as a boss, he knew the fine line between work and play. He was a ‘no-nonsense’ person,” said Group Captain Rituraj Tyagi, who worked alongside Khokhar.
Tyagi said Khokhar was an ‘old, bold pilot,’ who could fly any aircraft. “He was the project director of the LCA programme, but never flew the aircraft as it was in the initial stages back then. After his retirement, we became very good friends and met regularly,” he said.
“Considering the fact that he was demanding and very assertive, it was really not difficult for him to offend somebody. However, such incidents were purely official in nature, and I don’t think anybody would have a personal vendetta against him that would have prompted them to take his life. It is shocking,” added Tyagi.
When contacted, LCA test pilot Group Captain Suneet Krishna described the late Commodore as a very keen flier. “I have had the opportunity to work with him on three occasions — when he was the commanding officer of MiG Operational Flying Training Unit (MOFTU), when he was the commandant of the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) and when he was the project director of the LCA programme,”said Krishna.
“Though the ASTE had teams of pilots, he would fly sorties himself to get a first hand feel of the aircraft. He also had immense knowledge and flying experience,” added Krishna.
Krishna said while at ASTE, there were flying trials for the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft, which has currently been inducted into the Air Force.
“There were some complex tests that needed to be carried out in this regard. He (Khokhar) himself flew the fighter and executed the tests, though he was the commandant of the ASTE. This speaks volumes about his interest in flying. He was also socially active, and wrote several articles about the LCA programme after his retirement. I really cannot imagine a motive behind the crime,” he said.