Parents of Army hero forced to take arduous road journey for his last rites

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Bureaucratic system amid lockdown over COVID threat forced parents of Indian Army Colonel Navjot Singh Bal, a gallantry award winner who lost his battle against cancer, to embark on a 2,000-km road journey to see their brave son for the last time.

The officer died in Bengaluru on April 9. His parents are travelling by road from Gurugram to Bengaluru to attend his last rites.
They left on Friday morning and are likely to reach only by Saturday evening, driving about 2,000 km.
Bureaucratic hurdles didn’t allow the parents of Col Bal (39) to travel by military aircraft. The matter was ignored at the force and the bureaucratic top level, sources said.
Colonel Bal was awarded the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry award for showing exemplary valour in an operation in Lolab in Jammu and Kashmir.
The bureaucratic explanation given to the parents was that there are no civilian flights available. They were also told that requests made for an military aircraft to fly did not materialize as no formal orders were passed.
The parents were told that due to the lockdown, a clearance was needed from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The necessary permissions for movement were given by Thursday evening.
However, there were no formal orders for the Indian Air Force to fly the parents, forcing them to take the arduous road journey.
“There needs to be a clearance for civilians to fly in an Air Force aircraft and despite requests and an understanding that the family could be flown, there were no formal orders,” said a source.
Colonel Bal was a Special Forces officers belonging to the 2 Para Regiment of the Indian Army.
He also commanded his unit before he was diagnosed with cancer over a year back. The officer was commissioned in the Indian Army in 2002.