LUCKNOW: With the touchdown of the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets at the air force base in Ambala, three places – Barauny in Hardoi, Bakwan in Ballia and Mainpuri -- in Uttar Pradesh burst into revelries and celebrations as three of those pilots who brought the ‘bird’ home hail from UP.
Barauni is the ancestral town of fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi who was among the aircrew flying the French fighter jets to India. The crew was headed by Group Captain Harkirat Singh, a decorated fighter pilot, and commanding officer of the No. 17 Squadron.
Celebrations at Wing Commander Abhishek’s village began soon after the pictures of the aircrew entering Indian airspace went viral.
“Wing commander Abhishek was among the few chosen ones, who were assigned the task to fly the Rafale to India. Indeed it’s a matter of pride and a moment to celebrate for our district. We are proud of him,” said Anurag Tripathi, Abhishek’s cousin who distributed sweets.
Abhishek’s father Anil Tripathi, who is a government employee, had shifted to Jaipur almost three decades back.
“We remained glued to the TV sets to catch the glimpse of the fighter jets. With the touchdown, celebrations started, sweets were distributed, firecrackers were burst. Abhishek has brought laurels not only for the country but also to this non-descript small town making it famous,” said one of the close relatives of Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi.
Apart from Group Captain Harkirat Singh and Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi, the crew included Wing Commander MK Singh, Group captain R Kataria, Wing Commander Siddhu, Wing Commander Arun and squadron leader Deepak Chauhan.
On the other, Bakwan village in Ballia district has been basking in the glory of the feat for which Wing Commander Manish Kumar Singh was chosen and he achieved it with high flying colours. Son of an ex-Army man Madan Singh whose joy had no bounds as the fighters landed in Ambala airbase. “After me, my son is serving the country,” said the proud father joined by mother Urmila Devi who attributed it to the feeling of nationalism running in the blood of her son.
As per his parents and siblings back at his native village, Wing Commander Manish Kumar Singh was sent to France for six-month training but had to extend his stay in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The relatives busy in celebrations shared that the Wing Commander had joined India Air Force in 2002.
Similar joy and revelries were witnessed in Devpura locality of Manipuri in central UP where another ex-Army man Dukh Haran Singh was celebrating the safe return of his son, Squadron Leader Deepak Chauhan who was part of the crew which brought the Rafale fighter jets to the country from France on Wednesday. “Deepak had opted for Indian Air Force after clearing NDA and he has made the not only me but the entire country proud,” said his father.