According to a nephew, Bhatt’s wife got the news of the crash as it flashed across the television in the morning. Her worst fears were confirmed as an official from the Border Security Force came by to confirm the news. “He was very dedicated to his family and a very jovial person,” recalls a batch mate who had come to offer his condolences.
There was a curious crowd of onlookers that comprised local residents, family members and colleagues outside Deputy Commandant Bhagwati Prasad Bhatt’s Sarojini Nagar residence. The small cramped hall is jammed with relatives and well-wishers, while a young boy of three is running around with his friends, oblivious of the fact that his father is never coming home. Bhatt’s wife is inconsolable even as their youngest – a toddler all of 1.5 years sleeps beside her.According to a nephew, Bhatt’s wife got the news of the crash as it flashed across the television in the morning. Her worst fears were confirmed as an official from the Border Security Force came by to confirm the news. “He was very dedicated to his family and a very jovial person,” recalls a batch mate who had come to offer his condolences.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhatt was the baby in a family that had four brothers and three sisters. “He always wanted to do something different,” says older brother Rajendra, as he fondly recalled their childhood. “Initially he was interested in modelling, though we convinced him otherwise,” he added.Hailing from Uttarakhand, Bhatt grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas, though his higher schooling was in Dehradun. He joined the General Cadre of the Armed Forces and later on got his commercial flying licence from Rae Baireli.There is much anger among the batchmates who had gathered to mourn the demise of their friend. They could not forget Vivek Chaudhary – another batchmate of theirs who suffered a similar fate near Mount Abu almost four years ago. Their association with Bhatt goes back almost 15 years and his death has deeply saddened them.Bhatt – who married his love in 2008 – was posted in Delhi since 2009, when he got his position in the air wing of the BSF. “He was the best pilot around,” echo his friends.Inside the house, the wife has quietened down a bit, exhausted, “he was my strength,” she keeps repeating, tears rolling down her face. “You have to go on,” her friends try to console her, “For your kids, you must take his strength and go on.”The scene at Chotte Lal Sharma’s Sarojini Nagar residence – he was one of the 10 that died in the air crash, is one of caution. Sharma’s brother-in-law Pradeep Sharma said, “We haven’t informed my sister yet. We have simply told her that her husband has met with an accident and he is lying critical in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).” The official phone call confirming the Sharma’s death went to his son Somesh. He too has kept his mother in the dark about his father’s fate.A neighbour recalls, “I would see him (Sharma) every morning before he left for work. He would always say ‘”Please on the lookout and make sure my family is okay.” The neighbour added, “I didn’t see him this morning.”For C L Bhalothia, the morning news of the air crash put him on the edge since he knew his friend Ravindra Kumar, SI (JAM) was on that flight. All he could remember was Kumar telling him “I’m off now, I will see you when I return,” the day before. That was the last time Bhalothia spoke to his friend and colleague of more than a decade.Various colleagues from his department rushed to the spot and confirmed the worst. “The minute I saw the news, I tried to call him on his mobile, it just kept ringing,” Bhalothia recalls. “I could sense something was wrong,” he added. “After a while, the operator message said that the ‘Phone is out of coverage area’, he said.Now came the worst part, Kumar’s family had heard about the crash on the news in the morning, though, it was up to Bhalothia to confirm their worst fears. Bhalotia and his wife immediately made their way to Kumar’s Lodhi Road colony house. Here Bhalothia’s wife is consoling Kumar’s wife Manorama, while Kumar’s children – a son – he is in Class 10 and a daughter – who is studying in the final year of B.Tech, helpless look on. A kindly neighbour is seen bringing trays of teas for the visitors who have come to grieve and offer their support. “Kumar was always seen with a smile on his face and he was always happy,” Bhalothia recalls as he wipes his tears away with his white handkerchief.Kumar, who hailed from Gaya, Bihar, joined the BSF in August 2006 after he retired as a mechanic in the VVIP squadron from the air force. Two younger brothers and his immediate family comprising of his wife and two kids survive him. In the evening, when one tried to call Kumar’s mobile number, the operator message said that the cell phone seemed to be switched off.
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