Indian Air Force (IAF) Squadron Leader Siddharth Vashisht, who was piloting a Mi-17 chopper when it crashed in Jammu and Kashmir's Budgam district, was cremated with full military honours at Chandigarh today. The funeral was attended by his wife Aarti Singh, also a Squadron Leader, besides relatives, military officers and local politicians.
Photographs from the solemn occasion showed Aarti Singh holding back tears as senior civil and defence officers paid homage to her husband, who had lost his life at a time of rising tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack. The funeral pyre was lit by Siddharth Vashisht's father even as the IAF conducted a gun salute.
Six IAF officers and a civilian were killed in the tragic incident. Officers said the chopper had snapped into two due to the crash, and caught fire immediately.
This is Squadron Leader Aarti Singh, wife of Squadron Leader Siddharth Vashisht who was pilot of the Mi-17 that crashed in Budgam on Wednesday. He was cremated in Chandigarh today. RIP. pic.twitter.com/UUMeT120Id— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) March 1, 2019
According to news agency PTI, the officer's body had arrived at the Air Force station in Chandigarh on a service aircraft yesterday. It was taken to the cremation ground from his residence in Sector 44 on a bedecked IAF vehicle.
The 31-year-old IAF officer was a fourth-generation member from his family in the armed forces. Siddharth Vashisht was commissioned into the Air Force in 2010, and last month, he had received a commendation for his role in the rescue operation during the Kerala floods.
The other IAF officers who had died in the chopper crash were Corporal Deepak Pandey, Squadron Leader Ninad Mandavgane, Sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat and Flight Engineer Vishal Kumar Pandey.
(With inputs from PTI)