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Army loses elite Commando; 'red-tapism' compels parents to travel 2000 km by road for last rites

Special permission was sought by Ministry of Defence to fly the family in-service aircraft of Air force but permission could not get through.

Published: 10th April 2020 10:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2020 09:58 AM   |  A+A-

39-year-old Colonel Navjot Singh Bal

39-year-old Colonel Navjot Singh Bal

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: While the Indian Army mourns the loss of elite Special Forces (SF) officer, his old parents are on road to complete the last rites of their son.

A highly respected officer, 39-year-old Colonel Navjot Singh Bal passed away on Thursday morning but under the lockdown conditions, his old parents were compelled to travel by road.

Special permission was sought by Ministry of Defence to fly the family in-service aircraft of Air force but permission could not get through, thus leaving any option but for them to travel more than 2000 kilometres by road.

As civil flights are not operational due to nationwide coronavirus lockdown, 'The MoD had written a letter for permission to take family in-service aircraft but the decision could not be arrived at.' said an officer on the condition of anonymity.

There is a provision to allow the use of service aircraft for mortal remains of soldiers. But permission is needed to fly people not in service.

Colonel Navjot’s father Lt Col KS Bal (retd) 83 years old, mother and brother left for Gurugram from Bangalore on Friday after their hope for a service aircraft was dashed, due to lack of decision among the officials of the Air Force and the Ministry of Home Affairs, the sources informed.

Ruing the indifferent approach, another senior officer called it red-tapism and said, “This was a special need and we all in the Army were sure that it will happen. But, people who are expected to give a solution in such conditions did not bother.”

This one decision would have won the heart of entire fraternity, he added.

Col Bal was a decorated soldier who took command of the elite 2 Para SF Unit in March 2018. Bal was awarded the Shaurya Chakra when he and his buddy eliminated two terrorists in close combat in an operation in Kashmir’s Lolab Valley. Shaurya Chakra is the third highest peacetime gallantry award.

He joined National Defence Academy in 1998 and was commissioned into 2 Para in 2002. Col Bal is survived by his wife and two sons aged 8 and 4 years.

He participated in several anti-terror operations and was seen as a go-getter. “Nothing scared him and he used to be always smiling,” said one of the unit's senior officers. “The word impossible was not in his dictionary. If something was not happening, Bal used to find a way to get it done," he added.

Navjot was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in May 2018. Even while he was on chemotherapy the braveheart used to play games with his Unit. His right arm had to be amputated in 2019 but didn't deter him from following his usual routine. But, he lost the final battle in Bangalore's Military Hospital on Thursday.

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