Biju centenary: Odisha CM seeks IAF participation

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Monday requested the Defence ministry to approve the participation of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to mark the birth centenary year of the former chief minister Biju Patnaik.

In a letter to Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the state government has undertaken a year-long celebration from March 5 this year to mark the birth centenary year of the former chief minister.

He said Biju Patnaik, an aviator par excellence is known for his indomitable courage in evacuating stranded Britishers in Burma to safety during the Second World War. He also made the daring air journey to Indonesia in 1948 to rescue two key Indonesian independence leaders from a remote hideout and flew them to India, eluding the Dutch colonial rulers.

“These daring flying missions, which he first undertook with the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) and later with the Indian National Airways, earned him the sobriquet of “Daredevil”. The stories of his adventurous life still continue to inspire the youth of Odisha,” he said.

Stating that the state government has requested the IAF to display Surya Kiran AT, Sarang and Akash Ganga performance in December this year over the vast stretch of Kathjodi river bed at Cuttack, the birth place of the legendary leader, where the Surya Kiran AT and Akash Ganga had participated during National Youth Festival in January, 2010, Patnaik requested the Defence minister to give formal approval to the request of the state government and allow IAF participation to commemorate the birth centenary celebration of Biju Patnaik for which the state government will provide all logistics support.

“This will not only provide a rare opportunity to the people of Odisha to witness the grand spectacle but will also inspire the youth of the state to join the IAF,” he said.