New Delhi: At least two officers of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are likely to face “severe” action for the death of six service personnel and a civilian on ground after a Mi-17 V-5 helicopter was shot down in “friendly fire” in Budgam on 27 February.
Sources have told ThePrint that the Court of Inquiry (CoI) is in the final stages and its report could be submitted by early July.
The probe into the incident, which took place while the Indian and Pakistani air forces were engaged in a dogfight in Nowshera sector, around 100 km away from Budgam, has so far established that the helicopter was indeed shot down by IAF’s own Spyder air defence system following the failure of command and control at official level.
ThePrint had on 30 March reportedthat the incident could be a case of friendly fire.
Sources said at least two IAF officers would face severe action, which may involve court martial proceedings.
Two more officials, including the person who had fired the missile, could face limited action, sources added.
Sources also said that proper protocols were not followed during identification of the helicopter and while giving orders to shoot it down.
The helicopter had taken off and crashed within the same 10-minute window when the air skirmish was underway. At that time, the region’s airbases and military installations were on hair-trigger alert following reports of Pakistan Air Force planes flying into Indian territory.
Officers getting chance to cross-examine
The IAF officers concerned have brought in their own witnesses and are getting a chance to cross-examine others, sources said.
Sources further said the report would first be sent to the Air Officer Commanding-in-Charge (AOC-in-C) who will review the findings and give his own views. In case, he is not happy with the findings, he could order a second CoI or could decide on who he feels is guilty.
Once cleared by the AOC-in-C, the CoI report will then be sent to the Air Headquarters where the IAF chief will review it and take his decision. It is only after this process that the summary of evidence, which is similar to that of a chargesheet, will be done.
Courtesy: The Print