No official word yet, says family of Armyman from Belthangady, who was on ill-fated AN-32

Public TV English
Public TV English
4 Min Read

MANGALURU: The finding of the wreckage of an AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, which had gone missing while on a flight from Tambaram air base in near Chennai to Port Blair in the Andaman islands in 2016, does not seem to have brought final closure to the family of Naib Subedar Ekanath Shetty of Guruvayanakere in Belthangady.

The debris of the aircraft was found on Friday some 310 km off the Chennai coast at a depth of about 3 km in the Bay of Bengal. Naib Subedar Ekanath Shetty was the only army personnel from Karnataka on the aircraft which ws carrying 29 soldiers. His family still believes that he may be serving the nation somewhere. The then Siddaramaiah government had paid the family Rs 5 lakh as immediate relief and the family received not further assistance.

Naib Subedar Ekanath Shetty’s wife Jayanthi Shetty.

Speaking to Public TV, his wife Jayanthi Shetty said, “My huband served in the Army between 1985 and 2016 for 31 years. He served in many places including Sri Lanka and also took part in the Operation Vijay in Kargil and secured a medal. On July 22, 2016, I got a phone call when I was in school stating that an IAF aircraft which took off from Chennai had gone missing. They told me that a search operation was being conducted and not to worry. After 90 of him going missing, the army authorities sent his uniforms home”.

A bust of Naib Subedar Ekanath Shetty stands in their compound.

“We have not got any official communication from the Army authorities, but, on Friday, someone had posted a Twitter link in a WhatsApp group of the 29 families of those who were on board the transport aircraft, that the remains of the aircraft have been found. I am proud of the Indian Army because the group of people have stood by us and giving us information, and continuing the search for all these years”, she said.

Pushparaj Shetty, a relative of Naib Subedar Ekanath Shetty.

Jayanthi said they always hoped that Ekanath Shetty would return and they continue to nurture that hope. “We haven’t got confirmed news so far. That is why me and my two children are still hopeful”, she added. Jayanthi said she got her daughter married off recently and that her son is working with a private company. She also encouraged youths to joing the defence forces and serve the country.

Pushparaj Shetty, a relative, said the family has not got any official confirmation from the Army that it was the same aircraft which crashed into the sear. “The family has not got the benefits due to an armyman. The state government has not given any benefits in all these eight years”, he said.

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