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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

An Odia Jawan was one of the 13 people who lost their lives in the tragic Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. 

The Odia Jawan identified as Rana Pratap Das, a native of Talcher, was serving as a Junior Warrant Officer.

Rana’s death was confirmed by his brother-in-law Sankalp Das through the Twitter.

“My brother-in-law Rana Pratap Das from Talcher, Odisha lost his life in the tragic helicopter crash,” tweeted Sankalp.

Rana is survived by his wife, a one-year-old son apart from his elderly parents. Close sources of the departed jawan said that his mortal remains will be brought to his ancestral village for last rites tonight. 

Both the father and mother of Rana have not been informed about his demise since they are cardiac patients, said Bitu Das, an acquaintance of Rana.

Colonel Susant Kumar Mishra, Defence expert heaped tributes on Rana and said that he must have been a very competent officer and was probably part of the technical crew which flew with the CDS. It was unfortunate Odisha lost a bright young man and a brave fighter.

"I had talked with Rana just two days ago. He was saying that he would soon fly down to meet us all. I cannot believe that he is no more with us," said Sankalp Das, brother-in-law of Rana.

Condolences poured in from different quarters including Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik following the sad demise of Odia Jawan Rana in the fatal accident.

“Deeply saddened by the demise of Chief of Defence Staff Gen #BipinRawat, his wife & 11 other Defence personnel in a very tragic accident in #TamilNadu. It is an irreparable loss to the nation. Deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish speedy recovery of the injured,” tweeted Patnaik

Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan also mourned the death of Das.

“Shri Das was from my hometown in Talcher. An exceptional gentleman, Shri Das served the nation with courage, commitment and diligence. With his passing away the country has lost a fine IAF officer and Odisha a brave son. I join the nation in sharing the grief and offer my deepest condolences to his family & friends,” tweeted Pradhan.

“Deeply saddened to know about the demise of Odia Jawan and Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das in the helicopter crash near Coonoor. I extend my deepest condolences to his family. May God give courage and patience to the family members to face the situation,” tweeted BJP National Vice-President Baijayant Panda.

Notably, General Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other armed forces personnel including Rana lost their lives after a Mi-17VH choppper they were on-board crashed near Tamil Nadu's Coonoor. 

The helicopter was being flown by Wing Commander PS Chauhan and Squadron Leader K Singh.

The CDS along with other members boarded a flight from Delhi to Sulur and were scheduled to visit Defence Staff College in Wellington. 

The Indian Air Force said that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)

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