What went wrong?
the accomplished pilots of 254 Army Aviation Squadron, flying over the waters
of the Ranjit Sagar Dam is part of their basic training. But on Aug 3, 2021,
their helicopter crashed for some strange reason, killing both the pilots. The
body of Lt Col AS Batth was found a few days after the crash on Aug 15 while
Capt Jayant’s body was found after 75 days on October 17.
after the crash, the Indian Army along with the Indian Navy began a massive
search operation to locate the bodies of the two pilots. According to Harish
Joshi, it was the Navy that was more determined than the Army in its efforts. After
the first body was located, and with each passing day, Joshi was hoping and
praying that the rescue teams could locate the body of his son. There were
rumours that the search would be called off.
this is where I want to talk about the role of the media. Had it not been for
some upright journalists from some leading newspapers and channels like The Indian
Express, The Times of India, The Tribune, The Wire, among others, including
tweets and hash tags by several others, the rescue operation would have been
called off by the Army much before Captain Jayant’s body was recovered.
to Joshi, it was the Indian Navy that gave him constant hope that they would
ensure that his son’s body would be recovered at any cost. As for a few senior
Army officers, they were simply pussyfooting, trying their best to call off the
rescue operations citing rising costs.
an auto journalist, I too chipped in with my sincere efforts. I met some
defence correspondents and their Editors and urged them to keep writing on the
rescue operations so that the search was not called off. The Wire Editor M K
Venu was kind enough to hear me out and was very helpful. The Wire defence
writer Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar wrote a brilliant report that made sure the
search operations continued.
Firebrand journalist Barkha Dutt from Mojonews did her bit by writing and tweeting continuously about the incident. She even interviewed Harish Joshi and kept the news alive. Harish’s old friend from Maruti Udyog days, Arun
Arora sent out several critical tweets too. Captain Jayant Joshi’s body was
retrieved from the lake 76 days after the crash.
journalists who had interacted with Joshi when he was working with Maruti
Suzuki, tweeted about the crash and Harish Joshi’s
predicament. Many of them went out of their way to keep the pressure "on". Hormazd Sorabjee, Pankaj Doval, Sumant Banerji, Girish Karkera, Kranti Sambhav, Siddharth Patankar, Gagan Sethi, to name a few, were very proactive, tweeting extensively on the issue.
know I did my bit. I genuinely grieved and I prayed for a closure. I was happy,
sad and emotional when Jayant’s body was finally found. The postmortem report
that followed emotionally destroyed Captain Jayant’s parents.
his body was bought for cremation to Delhi I was there to pay my last respects.
A brave officer of the Indian Army had died in the line of duty. An old timer like me, Deepak Joshi who was a colleague of mine when I was in The
Hindustan Times New Delhi, was also present at the cremation.
for the company Joshi worked in, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, except for a couple
of people working there, not a single person from the management, senior or
junior, was there to console the grieving father. This was not the
time for apathy, but for love and forgiveness and sharing of grief.