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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 14:52 GMT
Indian mother presses for MiG ban
Russian-built MiG-21 fighter used by the Indian air force
Flight Lieutenant Abhijit Gadgil was on a routine flight

The mother of an Indian fighter pilot killed in a crash two years ago has begun a campaign against the use of Russian-made MiGs by the Indian air force.

Kavita Gadgil's 27-year-old son, Abhijit, was flying a MiG-21 fighter aircraft when it went down in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
India has lost so many talented and young pilots already in these crashes

Kavita Gadgil
More than one 150 Indian fighter planes have crashed in the past 10 years.

Experts blame a lack of training facilities and poor maintenance for the crashes.

'Statistic'

Abhijit Gadgil was on a routine flight.

Today, still unconvinced about the airworthiness of the aircraft, Ms Gadgil has found a way to deal with her tragedy.

May 2002, the wreckage of a MiG-21 after it hit a bank in Jullundur, Punjab.
Some MiG-21 crashes have occurred in built-up areas
She has formed a group of people who seek what she calls a "rational explanation" for the continuing MiG crashes.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Gadgil said the Abhijit Air Safety Foundation was formed on 21 December 2002, an anniversary of the day her son was commissioned into the Indian air force.

More than 100 people, including doctors and engineers have already joined the group, Ms Gadgil said.

She added: "We will be creating pressure groups and we want the government to make public the results of all the MiG crash inquiries."

"My son's death is just a statistic now as so many fighter pilots have gone down after his death," she said.

"The real cause of the accidents is not being revealed."

'Human error'

Her elder son, Kedar Gadgil, said they were prepared to approach the courts and file a case against the flying of MiGs.

During the last five years, we have specified before parliament the cause of the MiG accidents - whether hit by birds or human error

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The Gadgil family alleges there is something wrong with the aircraft, but the government is not even willing to publicly announce the results of crash inquiries.

"India has lost so many talented and young pilots already in these crashes," Ms Kavita Gadgil said.

But Indian defence officials say human error rather than technical fault is one of the major reasons for crashes.

The air force says it is taking necessary measures to reduce the number of accidents.

An air force spokesman, Squadron Leader SN Dhingra, told the BBC the newly-formed association was an emotional reaction of the families of the pilots.

He said: "During the last five years, we have specified before parliament the cause of the MiG accidents - whether hit by birds or human error."

See also:

09 Nov 02 | South Asia
26 Jun 02 | South Asia
03 May 02 | South Asia
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