Complete Article published in Indian Express -
In September 1965, as the Indo-Pak war was drawing to a close, a Pakistani fighter jet shot down a civilian aircraft with the then chief minister of Gujarat, Balwantrai Mehta, on board. All eight people — Mehta and his wife, three aides, a journalist and the two pilots — were killed.
Forty-six years later, the Pakistani fighter pilot who shot down the Beechcraft has written to the daughter of the chief pilot of the downed Indian plane, expressing regret over the incident.
“If an opportunity ever arises that I could meet you face to face to condole the death of your father 46 years back I would grab it with both hands,” Qais Hussain has written in an email to Farida Singh, the daughter of distinguished IAF pilot Jahangir Engineer.
Engineer’s civilian plane was mistaken for a reconnaissance aircraft by Pakistani controllers, and he was ordered to shoot it down, Hussain has written. There was no intention to kill civilians, he has said.
“I did not play foul and went by the rules of business but the unfortunate loss of precious lives, no matter how it happens, hurts each human and I am no exception. I feel sorry for you, your family and the other seven families who lost their dearest ones,” Hussain has said.