Lance Naik B Sai Teja from Andhra Pradesh was among those who were killed along in the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, December 8. Twenty-seven-year-old Sai Teja was serving as Personal Security Officer (PSO) to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who was also one of the 14 victims of the helicopter crash.
Sai Teja, a native of the Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh, is survived by his wife Shyamala, and two children â€” son Mokshagana (4) and daughter Darshini (2). Sai Teja's family had received the shocking news of his death, barely a few hours after he spoke to them over the phone. The soldier made a video call to his wife and children at 8.45 a.m. The Mi17V5 helicopter, which had 14 persons on board, took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 am on Wednesday, and was expected to land at Wellington by 12.15 pm. However, the chopper crashed at 12.20 pm in Coonoor, The Nilgiris district.
As his family await his mortal remains, a pall of gloom has descended upon his place of residence, Madanapalle town, as well as his native, Eguva Regada village in Kurabala Kota mandal, since Wednesday evening.
Son of a farmer, Teja belonged to the Kuruba community. He joined the Indian Army in 2012 as a sepoy, and was later selected for para commando training. It was only last year that Sai Teja was appointed as PSO to the CDS.
Political leaders across party lines, senior police officials and people from various walks of life are mourning the death of the young soldier.
Expressing his condolences, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy referred to Lance Naik Sai Teja as the stateâ€™s â€śbrave son.â€ť
â€śDeeply anguished by the demise of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat ji and his wife. My prayers go out to the families of the Armed Forces Personnel who lost their lives in this horrific tragedy, including Andhra Pradeshâ€™s brave son, Lance Naik B Sai Teja, who was PSO to the CDS,â€ť Jagan had tweeted.
Late CDS Bipin Rawatâ€™s wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others were also killed when the Mi17V5 helicopter crashed into a forested area. The others who died in the crash include Brigadier LS Lidder, Lt Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Havildar Satpal Rai, JWO Rana Pratap Das, JWO Pradeep A and Wing Commander PK Singh. Among them, the sole survivor is Group Captain Varun Singh. According to reports, he will be shifted to Command Hospital in Bengaluru for treatment. He is currently on a ventilator at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. Although his vitals are stable, he continues to be critical.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday, December 9, told the Parliament that a tri-service inquiry regarding the incident has been ordered by Indian Air Force, and the probe will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.