The Indian Air Force (IAF) has removed the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Srinagar Air Base, the senior-most officer of the base, for circumstances related to the crash of an Mi-17 helicopter near Srinagar on February 27 after it came under friendly fire, even as a Court-of-Inquiry (CoI) continues to investigate the matter. A final report is yet to be submitted.

On February 27, even as Indian and Pakistani jets were engaged in a dogfight in the Nowshera sector, a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter of IAF crashed. All six airmen on board the helicopter were killed. The helicopter was downed by a surface-to-air missile of IAF which mistook the aircraft to be hostile, initial inquiries have revealed.

As the inquiry nears completion, IAF is considering whether or not it should slap criminal charges against those found lacking. “There will be no tolerance of lapses,” said a senior defence ministry official who asked not to be named. Culpable homicide not amounting to murder is one of the charges that IAF is contemplating pressing against those found guilty by the CoI. “Unprecedented as it might be, IAF leadership is clear that such lapses are not repeated,” the official added. #indianairforce