A Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (AHL) with two top officers on board made an emergency landing in Kheda district of Gujarat on Saturday, drawing the attention of some military watchers about the possible violation of protocols.
Six military officers were on board the helicopter
The Dhruv helicopter that made the emergency landing was carrying Army Training Command head Lieutenant General Raj Shukla and Indian Air Force South Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal SK Ghotia who were returning after attending the Combined Commanders Conference in Kevadia, Gujarat, according to news agency ANI. There were four other officers on board the helicopter.
The chopper made the precautionary landing in agricultural fields 30-km short of Ahmedabad. Upon the landing, the local police helped the officer reach Nadiad. From there, the officer travelled by road and reached Ahmedabad on Saturday evening.
Many alleged protocol violation
Many social media recalled the tragic death of five senior Army officers in a helicopter crash in 1963 and raised questions on the presence of two senior officers in the aircraft.
A set of protocols were put in place regarding the travel of top officers in the same aircraft.
However, Indian Army sources said that the said protocol is about single-engine helicopters and the aircraft in question was a twin-engine helicopter and hence, no protocols were broken.
"The protocol (barring more than one top officer in a chopper at a time) is with regard to flying single-engine helicopters," The Print quoted a source in Army as saying.
Sources in the Army cited above said that the helicopter made the precautionary landing after the pilot noticed some warning switches on and through best to carry out a precautionary landing.
They also said that some officers flew together to Ahmedabad as protocols don't permit the flying of chopper after sunset.
Tragic 1963 crash
The tragic crash that killed five senior Army officer took place on November 22 in 1963. The helicopter called HAL Chetak crashed in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir when it was on a reconnaissance mission.
The Combined Commanders' Conference was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and several high-ranking officers of the tri services.
Speaking at the conference, Prime Minister Modi conveyed his strong appreciation for the resolute dedication shown by the Indian Armed Forces over the past year, in the context of the COVID pandemic and the challenging situation on the northern border.
He also called for a holistic approach, focused on breaking down civil-military silos and on expediting the speed of decision making. He advised the Services to rid themselves of "legacy systems and practices that have outlived their utility and relevance".