Pune: A close relative of Flight Lieutenant Kunal Barpatte, who was on board of AN-32 aircraft that went missing three days ago off Chennai coast, today alleged IAF officials did not contact them for initial 30 hours and did so only after they tweeted to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Kunals city-based family members are anxiously awaiting a word about the whereabouts of the plane as the operations to trace it stretched into third day today.
Local lad Kunal, one of the 29 crew members on board of the plane, had joined IAF in 2008.
“We are not expecting any miracle but expect that the missing aircraft should be located soon,” Kunals maternal uncle, Dinesh Patil told PTI.
He claimed that defence establishment failed to contact Kunals parents for almost 30 hours after the aircraft went off the radar.
“It was after our tweet to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar that the IAF officials started contacting us and came to the residence to meet Kunals parents,” he said.
Patil said that for 30 hours after the news of AN-32 having gone missing broke, they made frantic calls to IAF establishments, but failed to get positive response.
Expressing dismay over not assuring proper safety to the young officers, he said, “If you look at the history of the particular plane, the aircraft is there in the Air Force since 1984 and in one year underwent repairs for numerous times”.
Patil, a mechanical engineer, said Kunal who was the Flight Navigator for the ill-fated transport plane, had earlier flown it for 19000 HRS as he had commissioned in the service in 2008 and was possessing a good experience of flying.
“After repeated incidents of crash (in past), a thought lurks in the mind that why should we give our children to the defense establishments, if the proper safety is not assured,” he said.
“Our basic demand is that government should replace the flawed planes with better aircraft and if it is not possible, we expect that even Prime Minister and Defence Minister also travel in such planes when they go on foreign trips,” he said. PTI