A day after the BSF Beechcraft Super King aircraft crashed in Delhi, the real loss is beginning to emerge. The pilots who spent even their last seconds in service to the nation. Bhagwati Prasad Bhatt and Rajesh Shivrain were the cream of the Border Security Force flying cadre as the aircraft veered out of control on tuesday they used all their experience and instinct to divert the aircraft away from a crowded area so they could avoid civilian casualties. They both remained true heroes to their very last.
Co-pilot Rajesh Shivrain still had the plane’s joystick in his hand when his body was brought in for post-mortem, an evidence of how the duo had tried to save the aircraft and minimise casualties till their last breath.
Both Bhatt and Shivrain had over 200 hours of flying experience and held licences equivalent to that of commercial pilots. In what was a cruel twist of fate, the men were scheduled to travel to Ranchi in a train on Tuesday, but had to take the aircraft due to an emergency.
“God knows what brought them together on the ill-fated flight,” said one of Bhatt’s batch-mates from the 2001 cadet.
Son of a tea vendor, Bhatt rose through the ranks through sheer determination, recall friends and colleagues. Fondly called the “plane wala chachu” by his nephew, Bhatt was among the first few pilots who trained at the BSF training school at Rae Bareilly, following which he rose to the rank of deputy commandant.
Bhatt hailed from a small village near Kedarnath in Uttarakhand and studied in a government school. Family members recall how a jovial and lively Bhatt initially wanted to become a model. However, he was dissuaded by his elder brother, Rajendra Prasad, himself a software engineer, who wanted him to join the forces and serve the nation. He tried and got through the Combined Defence Services examination and opted for the paramilitary services.
“All of us come from a technical background. He had the best looks in the family and wanted to become a model. After being persuaded to choose a different line, Bhagwati went for the Combined Defence Services and enrolled into paramilitary forces,” said Rajendra Prasad.
He got married in 2008 to his long-time friend, Swati, after graduating as flying officer.
Rajesh Shivrain, on the other hand, was deputed to the BSF from the Seema Suraksha Bal as part of the Central Armed Police Forces’ flying contingent. A resident of Bhiwani, Shivrain joined his parent cadet almost at the same time as Bhatt. In fact, colleagues say they had flown the same aircraft a couple of times earlier and complemented each other well.