Havaldar Jagmail Singh was among 102 Army men on board a Leh bound AN-32 aircraft
A special mission by the Dogra Scouts of the Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday claimed to have recovered the mortal remains of a Non Commissioned Officer Havaldar Jagmail Singh, who was among the 102 Army men who perished when a Leh bound AN-32 aircraft crashed at the South Dakka glacier in the Chander Bagga ranges of the Lahaul and Spiti valley in Northern Himachal Pradesh, 45 years ago.
The Western Command release said identity of Hav Jagmail Singh of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps was established with the help of an identity disk, an insurance policy and a letter from his family that were retrieved from his pocket.
The remains of Hav Jagmail Singh, the fifth to be recovered so far, are expected to be flown to Chandigarh and taken to his native Meerpur village in Rewari in Haryana, where the last rites would be performed with full military honours.
The aircraft with 98 Army officers and personnel and four crew members “vanished into thin air” on February 7, 1968, after its pilot, Flight Lieutenant H.K. Singh made one last radio contact from over Rohtang Pass near Manali.
The mystery was solved only in 2003, when mountaineers from Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, stumbled on pieces of wreckage and a body that was identified as that of soldier Beli Ram. Machine parts, Army uniforms, human remains and a few other articles, including an identity card, had become visible as the glacier receded.
The follow up searches led to the recovery of three more bodies. The search was given up in 2009.
The release said that despite more than 45 years having passed, the Army was committed to recovering the bodies of its soldiers who may be long gone but not forgotten. The efforts would continue until they reached a logical closure as the Army wanted to give its perished brethren a befitting Last Post in keeping with its highest traditions.
On August 16, this year, the Army embarked on another expedition to locate the mortal remains of the remainder of the missing and recover the Flight Data Recorder, known as the black box in common parlance.
Elaborating on the expedition, which comprised the finest mountaineers of the country including an ‘Everester’, the release said the operations at the glacier were under way at an altitude between 17,000 and 18,000 feet in avalanche-prone reaches that were dotted with innumerable crevasses.