Villagers in Shajapur pray for safe return of Dornier crew

  • Ramesh Dhagat, Hindustan Times, Shajapur
  • Updated: Jun 15, 2015 17:08 IST

When the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard are busy searching Dornier aircraft’s three crew members, hundreds of people in Salsalai village, six kilometres from Shajapur district headquarter, are engrossed in prayers for their safe return.

The reason: One of the three was deputy commandant Manoj Soni, who was born in Salsalai in 1983.

Soni, deputy commandant Vidyasagar who was piloting the aircraft, co-pilot and deputy commandant Subash Suresh went missing on Monday (June 8) along with Dornier aircraft CG-791.

Dornier aircraft belonged to Coast Guard and was deployed for surveillance along Tamil Nadu coast upto Palk Bay Coast Guard Air Station, Chennai.

Pandit Kailash Sharma, a local priest, who had been organising hawan and other religious rituals for the safety of the trio, said not only his family members, but the whole village prayed for them round-the-clock.

Another Prakash Mewada, who is close to the Sonis, said, “No matter where he or his family are living currently, he was born here and we share special bonding with his family and wanted him to come back with two other officers safely.”

Radheshyam Soni, who is in Chennai along with his family, said he had words with his son just 10-minute before he left for his job on Monday.

“During telephonic conversation, he enquired about the status of our railway reservation as he wanted us to come to Chennai to stay along with him there,” Radheshyam said.

“Eldest among two siblings, Manoj always wanted to join services and after completing his graduation in 2005 from Bhopal, he appeared in recruitment test and got selected,” Radheshyam said.

When contacted to officer’s uncle Ashok Soni, who still residing at an ancestral village said we all along with hundreds of villagers are concerned for fate of crew members and are praying for my nephew and two other officers who were onboard.

Ashok Soni, who is working as a training officer at the Industrial Training Institute in Shajapur, said, “From early childhood, Manoj always wanted to join services and he work hard to achieve his goal of life.”

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