It took a gruelling 7-hour trek by locals to bring the bodies of a young IAS officer and two pilots—who died in a helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh—to the nearest district headquarters.
Eight days after a Pawan Hans helicopter went missing in Tirap district, the bodies of Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamalesh Kumar Joshi and the two pilots, Captain M S Brar and his deputy Rajeev Hoskote, were recovered from a 400 feet gorge between Pongkong and Longliang villages in Tirap districts bordering Myanmar by commandos trained at the High Altitude Warfare School in Jammu & Kashmir.
But the next task, to get the mutilated bodies to the district headquarters of Khonsa, was even more challenging. The locals, who were part of the rescue operation, volunteered to carry the bodies and trek all the way to the nearest village.
Impossible without locals
“It would not have been possible without the locals. They know the area better then anyone else. It took them a good five hours walk to get to the nearest village, from there it took about two more hours for the bodies to reach Khonsa,” said an official.
“We were up against all odds. The weather was inclement, it was raining heavily. The terrains were very difficult to carry air recce. We used all that we had, all resources with in these eight days to find out the wreckage. Even after that, recovering the bodies under the debris was becoming daunting,” said captain Amit Mahajan, spokesperson of Defence Ministry based at Shillong.
The Arunachal Police, CRPF and the Assam Rifles along with local administration and local villagers were the first to respond to the crisis. Soon they were joined by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Part of the wreckage and the crash site was found on August 10.
While Joshi’s body will be handed over to his family members who have been camping at Khonsa for the past few days, the bodies of the two pilots will be handed over to Pawan Hans, the operator of the chopper service in Arunachal Pradesh.