A very old and painful memory came back rushing to me today when I read the news about the Spiti Valley air crash of 1968 involving an AN 12 aircraft carrying 98 passengers from the Army and Border Roads organization along with four crew members with no trace of the aircraft and passengers till date barring one find in 2003 of Beli Ram of Akhnoor,J&K.
Today’s news item in the Times of India reported that three young trekkers accidentally reached this crash site and found an Identity card of a soldier . They also reported seeing mutilated body parts and remnants of the aircraft at this site .
I was posted at Kargil during 1967-68 as a captain working with the Border Roads organization in a maintenance engineer role and happened to travel from Chandigarh to Leh by an AN 12 aircraft , two days after this incident . Needless to say , we were all very tense through out our one hour travel and could not help looking out again and again at the desolate ice capped mountains which we crossed on our way to Leh.
I cannot say it is human failure on the part of the authorities that we have not yet been able to close this incident by finding out all the missing bodies even after 44 years . The nature has its own rules and the site remains covered with thick snow through out the year . May be the new information from the trekkers can help find a way out now .
I sincerely pray for the final closure of this great tragedy soon so that the bereaved relatives can also find solace in identifying the bodies and give them a decent burial .