Hours after Outlook first reported that the bodies of seven members of the IAF and army who died in a chopper crash on Friday morning in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang were wrapped in paperboards (cartons) and kept on airport tarmac, the Indian Army said the wrapping of the bodies with local resources was an "aberration" and that the fallen soldiers are always given full military honour.
On Sunday, Outlook reported that the bodies were wrapped in plastic sacks and tied up in cartons that look like those of split ACs during transportation.
"Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday to serve their motherland, India. This is how they came home," tweeted former Northern Army commander Lt Gen (Retd) HS Panag, along with the images of the bodies, which the website first reported.
Seven young men stepped out into the sunshine yesterday, to serve their motherland. India.— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
This is how they came home. pic.twitter.com/OEKKcyWj0p
Reacting to the issue, the army said in a statement that the carriage of the mortal remains in body bags, wooden boxes and coffins will be ensured.
"Fallen soldiers (are) always given full military honour. Carriage of mortal remains in body bags, wooden boxes, coffins will be ensured," it said.
A statement issued by the army later said due to constraints of the carriage effort in high-altitude area, helicopters cannot carry full load. "Mortal remains were wrapped in available local resources instead of improvised body bags or coffins. This was an aberration."
Mortal remains of heptr accident in HAA on 6 Oct 17 recovered, sent wrapped in local resources is an aberration. pic.twitter.com/NDvEvBo87F— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) October 8, 2017
It said immediately after the post-mortem at the Guwahati base hospital, the mortal remains were placed in the wooden coffins with full military honours.
"Consequent to paying of tributes as per full military honours, mortal remains of all the personnel have been sent to respective next of kin," the statement said.
The photographs were taken when the bodies were in Guwahati, as per an official.
Lt Gen (Retd) HS Panag said proper military body bags must be used to transport bodies from forward locations until ceremonial coffins were available.
This is a proper body bag. pic.twitter.com/OtEiC3jHUL— Lt Gen H S Panag(R) (@rwac48) October 8, 2017
Several people on twitter also expressed their anguish after the images surfaced.
Five IAF personnel, including two pilots, and two armymen were killed when the Mi-17 V5 chopper crashed on Friday morning in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
On Friday, an Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed near Tawang, a remote mountainous town close to the Sino-India border, killing all seven military personnel on board. Five IAF personnel, including two pilots, and two armymen were killed when the Mi-17 V5 chopper crashed around 7 pm after getting airborne from a helipad North of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi.
(With PTI inputs)
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