The bright star my family lost

On this day I am thinking about the bright star my family lost in March of 2006. I think of him very often and the finality of death strikes me hard. I am talking about my Chachu, (my father’s first cousin) Wing Commander Dheeraj Bhatia, an ace pilot with the Indian Air Forces, who died when his plane crashed in Bidar during the routine sortie. I cannot bring myself to describe this in detail so please read here about how gruesome it was and what a hero he and his co-pilot Squadron Leader Shailendra Singh were.

He was a hero, a bright star, young and talented and very passionate about what he did. I must have been 12-13 years old when he became a pilot and visited us in Ranchi. I remember the awe I felt just talking to him. I remember the warmth he oozed and how much I adored him. He was the real hero, charismatic and handsome and very lovable. And then a few years later he was chosen to be a part of the Surya Kiran Team, a team of very highly qualified air force pilots hand-picked for the role.

The entire family was elated and beyond pride. It was such a big deal and such a moment of honor. I remember the time his interview came on TV and how the entire family made it on time to see it. He was one person all the kids in the family looked up to.

And then on the fateful day on 18th March 2006 he was killed. It just ended in a flash. He was gone and only memories remained, along with 2 adorable daughters and his wife.

Chachu you have touched our lives in more ways than I can ever say and I cannot begin to write on how proud the entire family is. If at all you were with us today.

Why I write this today after almost 5 yrs of the accident is because I am so hurt by some remarks that have been made belittling the armed forces. By the fact that people have the audacity to say that the men in uniform do it for money alone and that this is just a job like any other, and people take it up due to lack of other options. I can never understand what goes in the minds of retards that demean the armed forces.

I salute the heroes and their families. They live by what they believe and die by it too.

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23 Responses to The bright star my family lost

  1. I salute your brave chachu. I can feel the pose and sadness in your words. Nothing we say and do can ever equal what these brave men and women do for us day in and day out. It is thanks to them that we can sleep peacefully in our beds at night.

  2. Prathima says:

    Iya, I wonder who can not understand the value of what these men do for our/any nation. You must be so proud to have had such a brave man in your family. Their spirit still lives

  3. Swaram says:

    Hats off!
    Some Jawans we met in the army too said that they had just chosen this at a job option first, but would not trade if for anything else now. I think that just shows how honest and humble they are to make such sacrifices as their duty! Even if we could do a smalllll bit of what they do for the nation, it will be so much! God bless them all!
    I saw ur comment just now … sure u cn include the pic here 🙂

  4. dipikasingh says:

    i have a cousin in the navy. he loves it. i think some people have no sense of what they say…

    have been travelling for work and was also out for a long holiday. missed your birthday too ( strange because i did read your post on the holiday) 😦 a very, very happy belated birthday to you

  5. col sk padhi says:

    I am moved by the heoric deeds of wing commander Charu. Many pilots loosing their lives which is v unfortunane. V nicely written abour him n his gallant works.
    My deep appreciation for him n his brave family to whom i salute.
    The Nation is proud of them n i wish them all the best.
    Thanking you
    with regards.
    Col sk padhi

  6. Sandeep Kumar says:

    Mam, I am proud to have shared classroom space with your chachu. We were classmates in school, but lost touch after that. Solidiers like Dheeraj never die. They live on through people who are inspired by their deeds to follow in their footsteps. Fully identify with your thoughts and emotions, as I am in the Navy too. Would be greatful, if you could share more information and memories about Dheeraj, the soldier.
    Cdr Sandeep Kumar

  7. Salutes and may he RIP

    hugs to u

  8. monishikha says:


    Just came across your blog randomly. The world is indeed a small place! My husband joined the Suryakirans about 2yrs after your chachu’s accident, so I’ve never met him, but being a fighter pilot’s wife I can absolutely understand what your family must have gone through.

    In my opinion,people who have no connection with the armed forces and make stupid statements like this are best ignored,because at best ,they are insensitive idiots who have NO idea what they’re talking about .

  9. Harikiranreddy says:

    i accidently found this article. i was posted with him in jaguar squadron. he left behind many memories, even today i recollect the days, i used be passionate to see him on his yamaha rx100 as a young pilot.

  10. I know Dheeraj Bhatia Sir.
    Great Pilots. May their soul rest in peace.
    Great loss.

  11. Promeet says:

    Being a fight pilot myself, I can totally understand. I happen t know both of them.

  12. ankita srivastava says:

    I knew dheeraj uncle very well.. he lived just behind my house in bidar… n all this had happened right in front of my eyes… can never forget what all had happened. Heartiest salute to him.

  13. Shashank Chaturvedi says:

    there was this holi gathering at AoC uncle’s residence day before the unfortunate event . How cheerful Shail and Dheeraj uncle looked . Dheeraj uncle could seen in his garden almost all the time when not in cockpit:) .. RIP uncle

  14. Abhilash says:

    Dheeraj Bhatia the Dare Devil in its TRUE SENSE.
    Not many know that he was a great humanitarian and sportsperson too. our pranams to the GREAT MOTHER OF INDIA… Ms. UMA BHATIA.
    Dheeraj was SON of INDIA…

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