NEW DELHI: Two days after seven military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in Tawang, purported images of their bodies wrapped in plastic sacks and tied up in cardboard surfaced today, trigerring an outrage.
This prompted the Army to come out with a statement saying the wrapping of the bodies with local resources was an "aberration" and that the fallen soldiers are always given full military honour.
"Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday to serve their motherland, India. This is how they came home," tweeted former Northern Army commander Lt Gen (Retd) HS Panag, along with the images of the bodies.
Reacting to the issue, the Army said in a statement that the carriage of the mortal remains in body bags, wooden boxes and coffins will be ensured.
"Fallen soldiers (are) always given full military honour. Carriage of mortal remains in body bags, wooden boxes, coffins will be ensured," it said.
A statement issued by the Army later said due to constraints of the carriage effort in high-altitude area, helicopters cannot carry full load. "Mortal remains were wrapped in available local resources instead of improvised body bags or coffins. This was an aberration."
It said immediately after the post-mortem at the Guwahati base hospital, the mortal remains were placed in the wooden coffins with full military honours.
"Consequent to paying of tributes as per full military honours, mortal remains of all the personnel have been sent to respective next of kin," the statement said.
The photographs were taken when the bodies were in Guwahati, as per an official.
Lt Gen (Retd) Panag said proper military body bags must be used to transport bodies from forward locations until ceremonial coffins were available.
Several people on twitter also expressed their anguish after the images surfaced.
Five IAF personnel, including two pilots, and two armymen were killed when the Mi-17 V5 chopper crashed on Friday morning in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh