Infobox Military Person
name=Sqn. Ldr. Ajay Ahuja
lived=May 22, 1963 - May 27, 1999
allegiance=Indian Air Force
Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was a fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force whose tragic death under controversial circumstances in the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir, was the cause of the most angry public conflagration between India and Pakistan at the time.
Early life and career
Ajay Ahuja was born in Kota, Rajasthan. He did his schooling from Saint Paul's Senior Secondary School, Mala Road Kota, a renowned missionary school for boys. He graduated from the National Defence Academy (India) and was commissioned a fighter pilot on June 14, 1985 in the IAF.
As a fighter pilot he toured on the MiG-23 fighter-bomber and MiG-21 variants, as well as instructional flying experience of over 1,000 hours spent teaching ab-initio pilots. Squadron Leader Ahuja was posted to the Killi Bhisiana Airbase at Bhatinda, Punjab, India in 1997. He had only just become the Flight Commander of Squadron No.17 "Golden Arrows" (a specialist photo-reconnaissance squadron), when the Kargil War broke out in May-June 1999.
On May 27, 1999, as part of "Operation Safed Sagar" in Kargil, a photo reconnaissance mission was launched over the Indian side of the line of control in Kashmir. A member of the mission, (then)Flt Lt Nachiketa ejected from his MiG-27L [Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: Air Forces Monthly, July 1999, Number 136, pages 74-75.] after an engine flame out. Sqn Ldr Ahuja stayed over enemy positions to help the rescue attempts knowing full well the existence of enemy surface-to-air missiles in the area. This was regarded as an act of great bravery in treacherous conditions.
However, his MiG-21MF fighter, C-1539, [Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: Air Forces Monthly, July 1999, Number 136, page 75.] was hit by a shoulder-fired FIM-92 Stinger. Ahuja gave a radio call – "Hercules, I suspect a missile hit". IAF authorities lost track of his aircraft and all communication shortly afterwards.
Circumstances of death
According to the data released by the IAF, Ahuja's aircraft had been within the Indian side of the "Line of Control", a ceasefire line and pseudo-border agreed upon by India and Pakistan in the early 1970s to maintain status quo in Kashmir.
A post-mortem examination conducted by Indian military authorities said that Ahuja had landed safely after ejecting from his plane, but had been killed by Pakistani soldiers [http://www.pafcombat.com/combat-losses/iaf-siachen-kargil.htm] [Stamford, Lincs., U.K.: Air Forces Monthly, July 1999, Number 136, page 75.]
The report revealed that Ahuja had been shot twice through the ear and chest. The Government of India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan's ambassador, sharply condemning this action by Pakistani soldiers The Government of Pakistan and Pakistani military authorities vehemently denied all accusations that Pakistani soldiers murdered Ahuja, a prisoner of war, and mutilated his body. Pakistan maintained that Ahuja was probably killed during the crash, or a victim of the vagaries of wartime, where it is impossible to keep track and protect every life, especially that of a downed enemy pilot.
No further investigations were carried out by either government nor impartial, outside entities. Both governments and their people stand by their respective version of events.
However, confirmation that Ahuja was alive when he landed came from an unexpected source - the website of a (then) serving PAF Officer. [http://www.pafcombat.com] . This website, set up by Air Cmde Kaiser Tufail confirms in its pages that Ahuja was killed 'in a shootout' on the ground [http://www.pafcombat.com/combat-losses/iaf-siachen-kargil.htm]
Return and cremation
On May 29th 1999, Sqn Ldr Ahuja's body was flown in from Srinagar by an IAF plane. The body in a wooden coffin was brought to the local Air Force station from Srinagar by an Indian Air Force plane. Air Vice-Marshal A. Sen, AVSM, accompanied the body which was received by local Station Commander Rakesh Kakker, and Ahuja's family members: Mr Parshotam Lal Ahuja, Mr Vijay Ahuja and Mr Sudhir Sachdeva. The body was taken to the MI Room where Ahuja’s widow, Alka Ahuja, received it.
Indian politicians were also present at the ceremony, as were hundreds of local people, as well as political activists. Angry public demonstrations broke out there, at Ahuja's cremation, which was particularly emotional for Ahuja's family, friends and the gathered public, and near the Pakistani embassy in Delhi.
Ahuja remains a great hero in the eyes of India's people, and his widow and family are often honored guests at patriotic public events and official ceremonies. The family received much support from Government authorities and Indian political leaders, as well as emotional and financial support from people across India.
On August 15th, 1999, India's 52nd anniversary of Independence, Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was posthumously awarded the Vir Chakra, one of India's highest gallantry honors for military personnel.
*Military of India
Источник: Ajay Ahuja