An Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot lost his life on Tuesday morning when a MiG-21 aircraft crashed in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, 55km from Srinagar. The IAF is tight-lipped over the cause of the crash.
The pilot, squadron leader Raghu Bansi was killed.
“One MiG-21 aircraft of the IAF crashed about 10km short of Awantipur Airbase. The pilot, airborne from Srinagar, was on a routine training sortie,” said a Srinagar-based defence spokesperson. “A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident,” he said, declining to provide details.
An eyewitness said the plane crashed into a paddy field 3km from Mirhama-Zaybal village in Bijbehara. “I saw the pilot ejecting before the plane hit the ground. However, he hit a high tension wire and died. The plane turned into a fireball after hitting the ground,” the eyewitness told HT.
A team of senior IAF officials have rushed to the spot.
Expressing grief, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Not entirely disconnected from today's crash, the new govt needs to sort out the defence procurement issue for Navy, Air Force & Army ASAP.”
In Delhi, union defence minister Arun Jaitley said, “This is a matter of grave concern. My heart goes out to the pilot who lost his life. I also offer my condolences to the bereaved family.” He said more details would be made available soon.