The bodies of 10 remaining victims of the IAF chopper crash near Coonoor were identified and the last rites of five of them were conducted on Saturday at their native places with appropriate military honours.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika and his Defence Adviser Brigadier LS Lidder were among the 13 people killed in the crash on Wednesday, December 8. Gen Rawat, his wife and Brig Lidder were cremated at Delhi's Brar Square Crematorium on Friday evening, November 10.
The last rites of Junior Warrant Officer (JWO) A Pradeep, Wing Commander P S Chauhan, JWO Rana Pratap Das, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh and Lance Naik Vivek Kumar were performed in the afternoon while Lance Naik B Sai Teja will be cremated on Sunday, December 12.
The mortal remains of the four other personnel were identified through DNA testing and they will be handed over to the family members on Sunday, an official said on Saturday night. The process of identification of these four bodies was completed in the evening.
While the last rites of Lt Col Harjinder Singh are likely take place at Brar Square crematorium in Delhi on Sunday, the bodies of Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, and Naik Jitendra Kumar will be transported to their home towns by military aircraft.
Earlier, JWO Pradeep was cremated at the premises of his residence at Ponnukkara village in Kerala's Thrissur district with his son lighting the pyre. His mortal remains were brought to Sulur airbase in Coimbatore from New Delhi around 11 am and taken to Kerala by road. Thousands of people gathered on both sides of the National Highway to pay homage to the departed soul. Hundreds paid their last respects to the soldier when his mortal remains were brought to his school in Puthur around 3 pm. Later, the body was taken to his residence for cremation.
Twelve-year-old Aaradhya lit the funeral pyre of her father, wing commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, in Agra's Tajganj crematorium along with her brother Aviraj (7) and cousin Pushpendra Singh. She later said she wants to follow her father's footsteps and become an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot too. Officials from the IAF, Agra administration and police among others, too, paid their tributes to the wing commander.
The mortal remains of Kuldeep Singh were consigned to flames in Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu district with his wife Yashwani lighting the funeral pyre.
Earlier, the body reached Jhunjhunu airstrip in a helicopter where he was given floral tributes. A decorated truck of the IAF left for his village Ghardana Khurd with the mortal remains. Thousands of people reached the village to pay tributes.
In Himachal Pradesh, Lance Naik Kumar was cremated with full state honours at his native village in Kangra district. People in large numbers bid final adieu to Kumar at the crematorium at Thheru village in Jaisinghpur.
The mortal remains of JWO Das were consigned to flames at his native village in Odisha's Angul district. His body was brought to his village Krushnachandrapur near Talcher where thousands of people lined up on both sides of the road to pay respects.
The funeral rites were held in the presence of family members including Das's old parents, IAF personnel, and hundreds of people at a crematorium in his native village. Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd had prepared the special crematorium at the village for his last rites.
Sai Teja, hailing from Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh, will be laid to rest on Sunday. His mortal remains were brought to Bengaluru, from where it would be taken to his native village, Yeguvaregadipalli for cremation. According to defence officials, Teja's body will be kept at the Command hospital in Bengaluru and will be taken to Chittoor on Sunday.
During the day, the ashes of General Rawat and his wife were immersed in the Ganga in Haridwar by their daughters Tarini and Kritika.
A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune in memory of its alumnus Gen Rawat, Brig Lidder and Wing Commander Chauhan.
Air Marshal Sanjeev Kapoor, Commandant, NDA paid homage to the brave hearts, who lost their lives in the helicopter crash. The personnel whose bodies are yet to be identified are Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh and Naik Jitender Kumar.