The last rites of Odia Jawan and Indian Air Force (IAF) Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das was performed with full military honours, including 21 gun salutes, at Krushnachandrapur in Angul district on Saturday.
Before that, a pal of gloom descended the village when the mortal remains of Das reached Talcher at around 3.30 pm. Subsequently it was taken to his ancestral village in a special ambulance with police escort. Thousands of people joined the grand procession by shouting slogans- ‘Rana Pratap amar rahe’ and breaking into tears for the hero of the land.
Following the last darshan by Rana’s elderly parents and wife, funeral pyres were lit amid full state honour. The mortal remains of Rana were consigned to flames at the special crematory ground. Huge number of people gathered at the village to pay their last respects to Rana.
“We all are proud of Rana. He sacrificed his life serving the motherland. However, hard times await his parents as he was their only son,” said Rana’s aunt.
“We lost a close friend. But we all are proud that our friend Rana sacrificed his life for the sake of the motherland. We had never imagined that we will see this kind of a tragic day in our life,” said Rana’s village friend.
State Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick also joined the last rites ceremony of Rana and expressed his condolence.
“Rana was the pride of Angul and Talcher and of course, the pride of the whole State. We all are saddened with the tragic demise of our young friend,” said Mallick.
Earlier in the day, a special Indian Air Force aircraft carried the mortal remains of Rana to Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik paid tributes to Rana following a Guard of Honour by 120 Batallion. Members of State Cabinet, police DG Abhay, Police Commissioner Saumendra Priyadarshi, other noted dignitaries along with armed forces personnel also paid their homage to the departed soul.
Rana, deployed as a junior warrant officer in the IAF, is survived by his wife, one-year-old son apart from his elderly parents.
Earlier on Friday, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, his wife, Madulika Rawat and Brigadier Lidder, were given an emotional farewell as PM Modi led the country in paying tributes to the souls. All three of them were cremated with full military honours at Brar Square in Delhi Cantonment.
Notably, General Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 other armed forces personnel including Rana lost their lives after a Mi-17VH chopper they were on-board crashed near Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor.