Indian Air Force’s extraordinary public clarification on report of holding back Mi 17 crash inquiry report until after LS polls


The Indian Air Force on Saturday issued an extraordinary clarification after a report said that it was holding back findings into the Mi-17V5 helicopter crash that killed six IAF officials. This was after a report by journalist Ajai Shukla alleged that the IAF had been ordered to put on hold its findings into the Mi-17V5 crash until after the elections since the conclusion had the potential to cause embarrassment to the BJP-led government!

Indian Air Force

The IAF took to Twitter to clarify, “Today in an article written by Ajai Shukla he has incorrectly speculated that the IAF Court of Inquiry constituted to investigate the Mi-17 V5 crash at Srinagar on 27 Feb has been put on hold. This is his imagination and IAF categorically denies this.

“CoI of aircraft accidents are meticulous & time consuming. All past inquiries of aircraft accidents bear testimony to this. Proceedings of a CoI are not commented upon by IAF till completion of the inquiry in all cases.There is no connection between elections & completion of CoI.”

In his blog, Shukla, also a former military officer, had reported that the Indian Air Force had been ordered ‘to put on hold (until after the elections) its Court of Inquiry findings that the IAF helicopter shot down the day after the Balakot strike was downed by an IAF air defence missile in a “friendly fire” incident.’

Shukla wrote in his blog, “For reasons that remain unclear, the Mi-17V5 helicopter was not in the safe corridor as it approached from the direction of Budgam, to the south of Srinagar. The ground missile units assumed the radar track they picked was that of a hostile aircraft.”

Shukla wrote that the Indian Air Force officers were ‘keen to serve justice quickly and make an example of those found guilty of operational lapses.’ But, they have received a ‘go slow’ order from the above until the elections are concluded.

“They say the reason is: With the Balakot bombing and the Pakistani response, including the alleged shooting down of a Pakistani F-16 fighter, being painted in election campaigning as a major Indian victory, admitting the loss of a helicopter and seven personnel due to friendly fire would present a bleaker picture,” Shukla reported on his blog.

Reacting to the IAF’s clarification, Shukla said that he stood by his report since it was based on his conversations with senior IAF officers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been flaunting the success of the Balakot airstrikes in all his election speeches. The CoI’s findings of the Indian military downing its own helicopter will prove to be detrimental to the BJP’s agenda in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

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