Bhatia, the hero children will never forget

Published on Mar 21, 2006 12:59 AM IST

THE MARCH 18 Suryakiran tragedy at Bidar in Karnataka that killed wing commander Dheeraj Bhatia and squadron leader Shailendra Singh might be just another plane crash for people, but for the two-dozen differently abled children of Arushi it was a deep shock they will never forget.

HT Image
HT Image
None | ByGAURAV Chandra, Bhopal

THE MARCH 18 Suryakiran tragedy at Bidar in Karnataka that killed wing commander Dheeraj Bhatia and squadron leader Shailendra Singh might be just another plane crash for people, but for the two-dozen differently abled children of Arushi it was a deep shock they will never forget. 

Bhatia shared a very special bonding with Bhopal, particularly with about 24 differently abled children of the NGO Arushi. A daredevil pilot that he was, Bhatia was blessed with an angel’s heart too.

When he had come with the Suryakiran team to Bhopal to display aerobatics on the occasion of Madhya Pradesh’s 50th foundation day in November 2005, he developed a special bonding with these children.

The children had been taken to the Bairagarh airport to meet the outstanding pilot of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Bhatia had been deeply touched by the love and admiration showered upon him and other team members by the children, most of whom are either blind or with some other disabilities.

Bhatia ushered the children into plane and educated about the cockpit, fuelling, engine and other features. He even got several photographs of him clicked with the children.

 “He became so attached to the children that he kept on insisting us to give him some work to help them in any way,” Arushi director Anil Mudgal told the Hindustan Times today.

Even after the team left Bhopal, it was Bhatia who remained in constant touch with Arushi and its children. “Some months ago Bhatia had called up and said that during an interview when he was asked about one of his most unforgettable moments in life, he had immediately mentioned the meeting with these children at Bhopal. He said, ‘that was my most special moment so far’ and it was the same for the children too,” Mudgal said. 

“He was very keen to bear the entire expenses of studies and other necessities of one child from Arushi,” Mudgal reminisces, adding Bhatia always wanted to do that something extra for his young friends.

The last time Bhatia had talked to these children was about 15-20 days back. He had called up and said that he would soon be sending some of his Suryakiran CDs and other items so that Arushi could translate them for the benefit of these children.

Those CDs might reach Arushi in the next few days, but the children there would not be able to meet their beloved uncle ever again and all that they are left behind with are fond memories of their hero.

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