The family of Flight Lt S Achudev, one of the two IAF pilots killed in the May 23 crash of their Sukhoi-30 fighter jet in Arunachal Pradesh, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a high- level probe into the tragedy. Late Flight Lt Achudev’s father Sahadevan VP wrote the letter seeking the probe either by CBI or NIA or RAW or IB to “unfold the mystery and reveal the truth” behind the crash. “As much as we are proud that he served the IAF away from us, he is my family’s greatest asset. With his inconsolable mother awaiting Achudev’s return, I sincerely request with the highest faith to initiate an all possible effort to trace my son at the earliest,” he said in the letter sent through Attingal MP Dr A Sampath. Similar letters have also been sent to the defence minister and the IAF chief. In a letter to Sampath on July 3, Sahadevan had said the IAF had sent a “symbolic coffin which did not contain any remains” of his son.
Among the articles recovered from the site of the mishap was only a burnt piece of his son’s wallet, a shoe of the other pilot and a hand glove. Their remains have to be found, he said. So far police has not registered a case and held inquries, he said. Achudev had gone missing on May 23 this year along with Squadron Leader Pankaj while on a regular flying duty at Tezpur Air Force station.
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In the letter dated June 26, a copy of which was released to the media here, Sahadevan said in the absence of any consistent, corroborative and conclusive material evidence of the bodily remains, his family was unable to accept the demise of their only son. “We still believe that he is missing,” he said.
Sahadevan has said he has “every privilege to know if my son is alive, where is he. If the IAF confirms otherwise, where is the remains of his body, which can rationally confirm this. Else, on what basis the air force has reached this conclusion?” he asked. The family has also asked if the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit voice recorder of Sukhoi had been retrieved and if so, the details of the last recorded voice conversation between the control/commanding centre and the pilots.
Sahadevan, a former scientist with ISRO, has also asked why no further search and rescue operations had taken place based on the FDR/CVR data findings which should have revealed further details of the incident. He also wanted to know if there was any material evidence to conclude that both the pilots could not initiate ejection as stated by the ministry of defence and if ISRO’s technology and the aid of foreign satellite imagery was utilised for search and rescue operations.
The fighter jet had gone missing during a routine training mission on May 23 in Doulasang area of Arunachal Pradesh. The plane’s wreckage was detected on 26 May and the IAF had later declared the pilots dead. Achudev’s funeral was held on June 3 at his ancestral home at Kozhikode.