Even before reaching the house of Flight Lieutenant Tapan Kapoor – one of the 20 men killed in the Indian Air Force chopper crash in Uttarakhand on Tuesday – one comes across a series of posters carrying his picture with the Indian tricolour in the background and a condolence message.
Pasted all over the narrow alleys of Kinari Bazaar at Chandni Chowk in the Walled City area, where his house stands, the posters depict a sense of pride that area residents share with the officer’s family. “He was our son and although all of us are saddened by the tragedy, we are proud that he laid down his life for the country,” said a neighbour, who joined the family as they waited for Kapoor’s body to arrive on Thursday.
‘Adventurous and athletic’ was how a school friend Varun Jain described the 27-year-old Kapoor, who was an aeronautical engineer, a basketball player and a keen guitarist. The young officer had left home barely 10 days ago after spending a vacation.
M. Behra, a friend of the officer’s father Naresh Kapoor for the past two decades, said Kapoor had left his house on June 16 for Kolkata. “On June 18, he was deployed in Uttarakhand as his team was involved in the rescue operations there,” said Mr. Behra, adding that the IAF man had last called his family members the night before the crash.
Kapoor is survived by his parents and his elder sister Shweta.
“He called them regularly and shared his on-field experience. On the day of the crash, none of us had watched television and were oblivious of the developments. It was in the evening that Tony’s (Tapan’s pet name) uncle from Mumbai called his mother and enquired about him. We made several calls but could not reach him and then contacted his office,” Mr. Behra said, adding that it was around 7-30 p.m. that Kapoor’s death was confirmed.
After completing his aeronautical engineering from the Capital, Kapoor joined a private airlines here as a ground staff. Reminiscing those days, Mr. Behra said Tapan’s diligence and devotion for work caught many by surprise. “I remember he used to leave home around 6 in the morning and return 12 hours later. There were times when he had to return to office almost immediately after coming home to fill in for an absent colleague. His commitment for anything he did always amazed me,” he said.
Recalling their formative years in Ramjas School, Varun said Kapoor always wanted to join the armed forces and did so when he got a chance nearly two years ago.