he last rites of Squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht, who died in a Mi-17 chopper crash in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district, were performed with full military honours in Chandigarh on Friday.
While Vashisht’s father lit the funeral pyre, a steady Aarti Singh, wife of the slain 31-year-old pilot and a Squadron Leader herself, stared with mourning eyes as the Indian Air Force gave a gun salute in the presence of officials from the IAF, the civil administration and a large number of people who turned up to pay their last respects.
The bereaved Squadron leader stood in uniform at the cremation site embracing the national flag while trying to hold back her tears at the site of her husband’s last rites. She laid a wreath on Vashisht before the funeral ceremony was performed.
The mortal remains of the officer had arrived at the Air Force station here on a service aircraft on Thursday. It was taken to the cremation ground from his residence here in Sector 44 on a bedecked IAF vehicle.
Chandigarh BJP President Sanjay Tandon and Haryana Minister Naib Saini were also present at the funeral ceremony.
Vashisht, whose family had settled in Chandigarh, was commissioned in the IAF in 2010. Last month, he was given commendation for his role in the rescue operation during the Kerala floods. He was a fourth-generation member from his family in the armed forces.
Last July, the officer, who also has three elder sisters, was posted in Srinagar.
Sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, who was also in the same chopper, was laid to rest in his Haryana home and the last rites were performed in Bhadani village in Jhajjar district.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who attended the ceremony, said the state government would provide ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh to the deceased’s family and government job to one of his family members.
Khattar paid rich tributes to Sehrawat and had earlier laid a wreath on his mortal remains.
An IAF helicopter crashed in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday, killing both its pilots and four others onboard besides a local resident.