Why did IAF soldiers come home in cardboard boxes? Twitter outrages

Wrapped in makeshift body bags, these Indian soldiers may have received all military honours in their last rites but Twitter isn't done with them yet

When 7 Indian Air Force personnel were killed on board of a Mi-17 helicopter near Tawang, the country was united in grief. The Russian-manufactured helicopter contained supplies for a forward post of the Indian Army in the mountainous region and was on its second sortie of the day, flying at a height of 17,000 feet above sea level with 5 Air Force and 2 army personnel on board. All seven military personnel on board were killed in the crash and the bodies were brought to Khirmu helipad for medical formalities. Since the helicopter was flying close to a hilly terrain when it crashed and due to lack of resources in the region, the bodies were wrapped in plastic sacks for transportation and tied up in cartons that almost look like boxes of split ACs. Questions began to be raised as to why basic body bags could not be arranged for the army personnel. The pictures from the helipad went viral on social media after Lt Gen (retd) HS Panag began posting them on Twitter on Sunday morning triggering an online debate.

The Indian Air Force, in an official Tweet, mentioned the loss of 7 lives and the unfortunate crash:

The Ministry of Defence in a public statement from the PIB said:

On 06 October, the mortal remains of the crew and the soldiers who died in the helicopter crash were collected from the wreckage and were promptly moved to the nearest helipad. Due to constraints of the carriage effort in high altitude area, helicopter cannot carry full load. Mortal remains were wrapped in available local resources instead of improvised body bags or coffins. This was an aberration.

To which the ADG PI responded with pictures of coffins wrapped in tricolour:

The ADG PI also said that they were later on given full honorary funerals.

Lt Gen H S Panag(R), who goes by the Twitter handle @rwac48, was quick to point out the gross disrespect and dishonour:

Lt Panag compared the military body bags that

Then he shared an image of a basic body bag, which couldn’t be too hard to find:

But he was trolled for it because the link apparently directed to a page that said the body bags were not in stock

Most people slurred accusations on General Panag, who is considered a political activist with AAP, and was accused of “abandoning ethics and military solidarity just to malign it and score political points.”

To which Lt Panag only had one standard reply

Still, some journalists were quick to defend Lt Panag, like Nidhi Razdan for instance:

While others like Barkha Dutt just wanted an end to the debate

Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, was unhappy to see the treatment meted out towards these brave men of the country:

While people on Twitter spewed anger towards the lack of dignity in the final send-off of these soldiers:

And this one tweet summed up the rest

The Twitter outrage managed to stir a chaos with no one direction with Lt Panag mostly being dissed for voicing his dissent. But the issue at hand is certainly an important one. Our soldiers deserve dignity in martyrdom.

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