Body of flight lieutenant S. Achu Dev, who was killed in the Sukhoi-30 air crash in Assam,not in coffin says parents

American national, John Friesen stays at night shelter near Begumpet railway station after losing baggage off to Malaysia

Thiruvananthapuram,July6: The parents of flight lieutenant S. Achu Dev, who was killed in the Sukhoi-30 air crash in Assam in May, have shot off a letter to the President, Prime Minister and home minister crying foul play in his death.

His father V.P. Sahadevan alleged that the coffin was empty when it was brought to Kerala for the last rites. The Air Force which had initiated a court of inquiry into the mishap is yet to reveal its findings.

Thiruvananthapuram native Achu Dev, 25, who has his roots in Kozhikode, and Chandigarh native squadron leader Divesh Pankaj, who flew Sukhoi-30 MKI, had gone missing in Assam on May 23. Achu Dev’s parents are apprehensive over the current turn of events at the Chinese border from where bodies of the two pilots have not been retrieved.

The family members said  that they had given a complaint to the authorities through Attingal MP A. Sampath on Monday. “So far, we have not heard anything from the Centre after giving a letter to the President, Prime Minister and the home minister. We were told  after the fighter plane had crashed and that the bodies of the two pilots were charred beyond recognition. But once the coffin was brought to the capital city, we were informed by the Air Force officials themselves, who had accompanied our son, that the coffin was empty,”  said the family members.

They also have apprehension over the way Achu Dev’s coffin was transferred to the Pangode military hospital in Thiruva-nanthapuram. It was not allowed to remain at his home at Pongumoodu here. The Air Force officials had told the parents that the mortal remains of Achu Dev were brought to Sulur Air Force base in Coimbatore from Tezpur in Assam.

The coffin was kept at Madhukkarai military hospital in Coimbatore overnight. The parents alleged that only a burnt purse was kept inside the coffin after the ‘mortal remains’ were laid to rest with full military honours.

Achu Dev and his colleague Divesh Pankaj were  on a sortie on the north-eastern border in Arunachal Pradesh which is often referred to by the Chinese as South Tibet. The fighter plane crashed three days prior to the visit of Prime Minister to inaugurate the Dhola-Sadiya bridge.