Indian Air Force (IAF) has removed the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Srinagar Air Base, the senior-most officer of the base, in wake of the investigations going on into the crash of Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam district in central Kashmir on February 27 this year.
“IAF is considering whether or not it should slap criminal charges against those found lacking. Culpable homicide not amounting to murder is one of the charges that IAF is contemplating pressing against those found guilty by the CoI,” Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.
The report quoting a senior defence ministry official said that as unprecedented as it might be, IAF leadership is clear that such lapses are not repeated and there will be no tolerance of lapses.
It said that the AOC has been removed because the incident happened on his watch.
It said that the preliminary inquiry into the accident has allegedly indicated several lapses leading to the tragic accident. For instance, the air traffic control called the helicopter back even as air engagement between Indian and Pakistani fighters intensified.
“Ideally, the helicopter should have been sent away to safer zone instead of it being called back to the base. The incoming helicopter should have been vectored into the pre-designated zone meant for friendly aircraft to hold till the alert was called off,” the report added.
On February 27, even as Indian and Pakistani jets were engaged in a dogfight in the Nowshera sector, a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter of IAF crashed. All six airmen on board the helicopter and a civilian were killed. The helicopter was downed by a surface-to-air missile of IAF which mistook the aircraft to be hostile, initial inquiries have revealed.