Draped in the national flag with wreaths on top, 20 caskets with the remains of the brave hearts who died in a copter crash in Uttarakhand, were brought in for a last salute to the GTC helipad here on Friday.
Five personnel from the IAF, six from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and nine from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were returning after rescuing stranded pilgrims in Kedarnath when the MI-17 V5 chopper they were flying in crashed in the Gaurikund area killing them.
As Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh and a host of officials attended the guard of honour ceremony to pay their homage, hundreds of men from the IAF, NDRF, the ITBP came together to bid farewell to their colleagues.
Paying tributes to the men, Mr. Shinde said the nation would not forget the supreme sacrifice of these 20 brave men who gave their lives while rescuing thousands of people in the floods.
He said more choppers would be sent to Uttarakhand to step up rescue work.
Gen. Singh lauded the efforts of the various forces and said, “They are sons of our soil and a large number of them are affected too. I must tell you these boys have refused to take leave to attend to their kith and kin and have rather chosen to render their duties. We all had phenomenal synergy.”
Tourism Minister, K Chiranjeevi, announced a Rs. 195-crore package for reconstruction of the 'Char dham' pilgrimage circuit ravaged by the floods. These would include sites in Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.