four choppers including two from Indian Army, and one each from Indian Air Force and state government of Arunachal Pradesh got engaged in the search operations from the morning till dusk in the dense forests bordering Myanmar trying to locate the whereabouts of the chopper. The missing chopper had two crew members -- Captain MS Brar and Captain Rajiv Hoskote, apart from IAS Joshi on board, when it lost contact on Tuesday.
For those who may consider this incident inconsequential, here are a few factoids. First, the road network in Arunachal Pradesh is one of the worst in the country and one has to travel via Assam, that too a long distance of over 500 km, if one travels from Khonsa, the district headquarters of Tirap where Joshi is the DC, to Arunachal’s capital city, Itanagar. So, a helicopter journey is not a luxury but often a sheer necessity there.
Secondly, officers working in those highly inaccessible frontiers often need to walk miles to meet the residents living in far-flung villages. Sample this: In the 2014 general elections, the Hukani polling station located in Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh had only 22 registered voters. And the officials had to walk 22 km to get there, according to Election Commission of India data.
Thirdly, Tirap-Changlang is such a pocket in Arunachal Pradesh where anti-talks faction of NSCN led by a Burmese Naga SS Khaplang is very active.
Hopefully, by now, everyone is convinced that life is not easy for officers like Joshi serving in India’s Far East. But when such an officer goes missing on duty, no one -- including media, argumentative Twitter Indians, Netas and Joshi’s own colleagues in bureaucracy -- care much. When BoI appealed every bureaucrat to join hands in Twitter on Wednesday on this issue, most ignored it happily (barring a few of course). Some officers who are highly active in social media and have views on every subject on earth, failed to spare a moment for their missing colleague! And when bureaucrats themselves ignored it, how can you expect others to take it up?
On Day 5 of the incident, i.e. Saturday, the cabinet secretary and 1977 batch IAS Pradeep Kumar Sinha finally had a review meeting on the ongoing search operations of the missing chopper in Arunachal Pradesh. Cabinet secretary directed that all available technical (including satellite imagery) and human inputs must be deployed by both the state and Central government to locate the missing officers and the helicopter, according to a statement issued by the government.
Earlier on Saturday, union home secretary and 1979 batch IAS LC Goyal also reviewed the search operations in a high level review meeting attended by defence secretary, secretary (telecom) and senior officers of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and ministry of external affairs, Armed Forces and Central intelligence and security agencies.
But the Day 5 or Day 6 is too late in a search operation, if someone is injured and trapped inside forests.
Pawan Hans has not issued any statement. Nor has the oil major ONGC who owns 49% of the government-run helicopter company that owns the missing chopper.
Last thought: Back in 1977, the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai walked out of a plane at Jorhat in Assam when the Pushpak aircraft he was travelling crash-landed in a paddy field killing all the pilots!