Bhubaneswar: What Bucephalus the horse meant to Alexander the Great, probably the Dakota aircraft carried the same significance in the life of legendary leader and former chief minister of Odisha Biju Patnaik.
Whether it was the freedom movement of Indonesia or the severely hostile situation and crossfire in Srinagar when Biju Babu flew with a battalion from the 1st Sikh Regiment from Delhi’s Palam airport, the Dakota was by Biju Babu’s side.
The iconic Dakota plane was witness to the heroics of Biju Babu and his undaunted courage. But sadly, the Dakota plane which belonged to Kalinga Airlines and carries the imprints of Biju Babu’s valiant endeavours is slowly wilting in the sands of time as it lies forlorn at Kolkata Airport.
However, it could receive a new lease of life as the Odisha government has begun the process to salvage the plane. A letter in this regard has been sent by the chairman of the Airports Authority of India to the Chief Secretary of Odisha.
“We had written to the Chief Secretary of Odisha and they replied back immediately saying they want to take the plane back. An official of the government will visit the Kolkata airport and study the plane before its transfer,” said AAI chairman, Guruprasad Mohapatra.
“I had written to the Chief Minister five years back regarding the plane asking him to get it back as it is a memoir of Biju Babu,” said war researcher Anil Dhir.
Even though the government is planning to bring the plane, sources informed that it is yet to identify a proper place to keep and display it. While the government is contemplating to keep the plane at Biju Babu’s birth place Biju Bhawan in Cuttack, given the plane’s sheer size there might not be enough space, feel many. Moreover, there are also demands the plane should be kept at the Biju Patnaik International Airport.