Indo-Pak war veteran loses battle against COVID-19

Anil Bhalla. File.  

Squadron Leader Anil Bhalla (retired), distinguished air warrior whose accomplishments during the 1971 Indo-Pak war was much acclaimed, died on Tuesday after battling COVID-19 in Hyderabad.

The seventy-four-year-old former Indian Air Force officer not only proved his mettle as a young Flying Officer flying MiG-21 sorties during the war participating in attack missions, but also subsequently after voluntary retirement from the service, he became a successful businessman.

Late Bhalla is survived by his wife Sita Bhalla, two daughters Shefali and Akanksha and son Akshay. According to Ms. Shefali, the retired officer had undergone RT-PCR test on April 23 which came positive but the HRT-CT scan did not show much of infection. “On doctors’ advice, he was in home isolation but on April 28, when he had difficulty in breathing, we shifted him to a corporate hospital for further treatment. During the course of the treatment he developed lung and heart related complications and breathed his last in the early hours of Tuesday,” Ms Shefali told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Befitting a decorated officer, Station Commander of Air Force Station Hakimpet deputed Flight Lieutenant Malvika Gupta along with an Air Force van with nine service personnel to provide salutations to the departed officer. Widow of the departed officer Sita Bhalla was given the National Flag to place on the coffin box.

A little over dozen direct family members and others attended the last rites at Swarg Vatika in Trimulgherry following the due COVID protocols, Ms. Shefali said.

Sqn Ldr Bhalla, who joined the National Defence Academy’s 32nd course after studying at Sainik School Satara in western Maharashtra, was commissioned into the IAF’s fighter wing in 1968 and operated from the Tezpur-based 28th Squadron, flying the Russian-origin aircraft. The veteran air warrior native of Mumbai later settled at Hyderabad after his retirement and excelled in business. Beginning with agriculture, dairy and later diversifying into construction, late Bhalla turned out to be a role model for several, according to his family.

Turning his 7.50-acre agriculture land into virtual experimental ground for farm production, the IAF officer grew vegetables, grapes and started a dairy with Jersey cows, Ms. Shefali said, recalling how her father made a mark. Wing Commander Anil Chopra (retired) termed late Bhalla as a person full of life, generous, humble, extremely social, always smiling, and an animal lover. P.Subba Rao of Meghna Constructions, a close friend of the air warrior, recalled his association with him.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 12:09:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/indo-pak-war-veteran-loses-battle-against-covid/article34543851.ece

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