ThrissurThrissur: The mortal remains of Junior Warrant Officer A Pradeep, the Keralite who was among the 13 killed in Wednesday's military helicopter crash in Coonoor, was consigned to flames at his native place in Thrissur as thousands paid their last respects.
The last rites were held at his house premises in Thrissur's Ponnukkara Village.
The body was earlier taken to the Puthur Government School, where Pradeep studied, to allow people to pay respects. Thousands had gathered there to have a glimpse of the soldier who died in tragic circumstances.
Pradeep's mortal remains reached Sulur in Coimbatore district at 11 am from Delhi. The cortege entered Kerala at the Walayar border at 12.30 pm.
TN Prathapan, the Thrissur MP, paid homage to the soldier at Sulur. Prathapan and Union Minister V Muraleedharn accompanied the hearse from Sulur.
Kerala Ministers K Krishnankutty, K Rajan and K Radhakrishnan also paid homage to the dead soldier earlier.
Pradeep's father, who is on ventilator, has been informed of his demise.
Three days since the crash
A couple of day's ago Pradeep's brother had visited Coimbatore soon after receiving the news of his demise to receive his body. But he had to return to Thrissur after completing the formalities to secure the release of the body as it was flown to Delhi along with the bodies of the defence personnel who were killed in the tragic crash for identification as well as public homage in the national capital.
India's first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika, and Brigadier LS Lidder were among those who were killed in the chopper crash that occurred reportedly due to bad weather.
Pradeep, who joined the Air Force in 2004, had been involved in the rescue operations during the floods in 2018 that caused massive destruction throughout Kerala.
Five bodies identified on Saturday
Pradeep's was among the five of the 10 bodies identified on Saturday. The others are Wing Commander P S Chauhan, JWO Rana Pratap Das, Lance Naik B Sai Teja and Lance Naik Vivek Kumar.
"The mortal remains of the five personnel were released to close family members this morning," said a senior military official.
The bodies are being taken to the home towns of the five personnel by air for last rites with appropriate military honour, the officials said.
Five more bodies are yet to be identified. The bodies of the Rawat couple and Lidder were identified on the day of the crash itself.
The Indian Army had stated earlier that because of the severity of the crash, the positive identification of the mortal remains is difficult.
"The mortal remains will be released to the next of kin only after the positive identification of bodies. All possible measures are being taken for positive identification considering the sensitivities and emotional well-being of the loved ones," the Army said.
The personnel whose bodies are yet to be identified are Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Squadron Leader K Singh, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh and Naik Jitender Kumar.
The unidentified bodies were kept in the mortuary of the Army Base Hospital in Delhi Cantonment.