Grieving relatives of BSF plane crash confront Rajnath
As Singh and mourning relatives bid adieu to victims amid grief and anger, the Border Security Force(BSF) chief D K Pathak maintained that its crashed Beechcraft Super King was completely "airworthy" and flying "very well" and rejected allegations about any possible defect in the 11-seater aircraft.
A small 20-year-old BSF plane ferrying the force's technical personnel to Ranchi crashed in Dwarka area yesterday and burst into flames just outside IGI airport shortly after take-off.
"Why are old aircraft being used and lives of troops put at risk?" was one of the questions faced by Singh.
A distraught and agitated daughter of Sub-Inspector Rabinder Kumar, who was among the 10 personnel killed in yesterday's crash, asked Singh and BSF Director General D K Pathak to "address" these issues so that soldiers on the line of duty are not killed in such mishaps.
"Jawab dijiye (give me an answer). Why only soldiers get killed in such accidents and it never happens to VIPs," she asked as soon as Singh began meeting the families after paying tributes and placing floral wreaths on mortal remains of the victims.
A composed and moist-eyed Home Minister consoled the young woman and assured that their grievances would be looked into as he said he would review each and every aspect that they have underlined.
The silence of the foggy and wintry morning at the airstrip was broken when the family members, one by one, started wailing, and their screams rent the sombre air.
The next of kin of other personnel who had come to pay their respects to their near and dear ones at the BSF hangar at Safdarjung airport here had more or less the same grievances and stories to tell.
"My son-in-law told me that the planes in the BSF air wing are getting old and new ones are expected in sometime. I don't know when will these new aircraft come but surely he will not be there to see them," said the father-in-law of the co-pilot Rajesh Shivrain.
The family members of another personnel said they were being told that the BSF fleet is growing old and new acquisition is stuck in "red tape".
"This is worrying, for us and everyone who is associated with this wing. We just want that a soldier's life should not be put at stake by using old machines," a family member of Assistant SI D P Chauhan said.
BSF Director General D K Pathak said the ill-fated aircraft was 20 years old and in the aviation (domain) an aircraft has life till 40-45 years.
He said the main probe into the crash is being done by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and that it would be "premature" to speculate on the possible reasons for the mishap.
The BSF Chief said the plane B-200, registered as VT-BSA, was flying about 3-4 days in a week.
"As I said, this aircraft has been flying very well...it had been flying three to four days in a week and there was absolutely no problem. Whenever any kind of a snag is reported it is promptly attended to and aircraft is not made airborne until it is certified by the technicians that it is worthy to fly," he said.
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