Residents of Barauni locality in Hardoi district celebrated as the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets from France landed at the air force base in Ambala on Wednesday.
Barauni is the ancestral town of fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi who was among the air crew flying the French fighter jets to India. The crew was headed by Group Captain Harkirat Singh, a decorated fighter pilot and commanding officer of the No. 17 Squadron.
Celebrations at Wing Commander Abhishek’s village began soon after the pictures of the air crew entering Indian airspace went viral.
“Wing commander Abhishek was among the few chosen ones, who were assigned the task to fly the Rafale to India. Indeed it’s a matter of pride and a moment to celebrate for our district. We are proud of him,” said Anurag Tripathi, Abhishek’s cousin who distributed sweets.
“Abhishek was born and brought up in Jaipur but was always in touch with his friends and relatives at his ancestral town. We always used to catch up at the family functions and get-togethers. It is no less than a Diwali for us,” he said.
Abhishek’s father Anil Tripathi, who is a government employee, had shifted to Jaipur almost three decades back.
People remained glued to the TV sets to catch the glimpse of the fighter jets and started celebrating by bursting fire crackers as the fighter jets landed safely in India. “Sandila’s giant laddu (a type of sweet) now won’t be the only famous thing that belongs to Sandila. Abhishek, too, has made our small town famous,” said Saroj Tripathi, Abhishek’s uncle.
District Magistrate of Hardoi, Pulkit Khare confirmed Tripathi’s participation in the air crew that had flown the much-awaited fighter jets to India.
“It is a matter of pride for the district and inspiration for the youth of Hardoi that Wing Commander Abhishek was a part of this significant moment in the history of Indian defence. I hope it motivates more youth of our district to serve the nation and display their patriotism through their deeds,” Khare said.
Apart from Group Captain Harkirat Singh and Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi, the crew included Wing Commander MK Singh, Group captain R Kataria, Wing Commander Siddhu and Wing Commander Arun.