Mumbai, (Samajweekly) Maharashtra bid a tearful adieu to Captain Deepak V. Sathe — the pilot who was killed in the Air India Express plane crash in Kozhikode last Friday — at his funeral performed with full state honours here on Tuesday afternoon.
In the morning, Sathe’s mortal remains were brought from the Bhabha Hospital, Bandra, by his sons — Shantanu and Dhananjay.
They conducted the last rites at their residence complex, Nahar Amrit Shakti, Chandivali-Powai area, in the presence of representatives of the Maharashtra government, defence forces, police, various political dignitaries and others.
During the ceremony, the coffin was draped in the tricolour by the Mumbai Police and the Indian Air Force Ensign by the IAF contingent, but the number of mourners was restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sathe’s family, including his wife Sushma Sathe, sons, and other close relatives paid their last respects, though his grieving Nagpur-based parents – retired Col Vasant Sathe and Neela Sathe – were not present owing to their advanced age and the pandemic.
A Mumbai Police contingent accorded an Honour Guard and a Salute to the departed aviator in the brief but solemn ceremony.
Wreaths were placed on behalf of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, and on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff, Commander-in-Chief, South Western Air Command, Indian Navy’s Commander-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, Air Force Station Mumbai, 58 Course NDA, 127 Pilots Course, IAF Battleaxe Squadron and NDA’s J Squadron (Jaguar Squadron).
An Indian Army team laid wreaths on behalf of the General Officer Commanding Maharashtra, Gujarat & Goa Area.
Also present on the occasion to pay their last respects were dignitaries like Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Poonam Mahajan, legislator Dilip Lande, and municipal councillors Ishwar Tawade and Harish Bhandirghe.
Air Marshal (retired) J.S. Gujral and Consul-General of Singapore Gavin Chay, who was Capt Sathe’s coursemate at the NDA, and residents of the sprawling housing complex in suburban Chandivali, also laid wreaths.
As the funeral cavalcade, escorted by the Mumbai Police, started for the cremation at Vikhroli Electric Crematorium, cries of “Capt Deepak Sathe Amar Rahe” rent the air with many from the society and neighbouring buildings seen bidding their final farewell.
Prior to the cremation, the police contingent removed the tricolour while the IAF contingent removed the IAF Ensign which were ceremoniously folded and formally presented to his sons Shantanu and Dhananjay.
Later, the Mumbai Police mourning party fired rifle volleys in the air as a salute, with the Last Post played on the bugle.
Post-funeral, the Sathe family released a moving tribute in his memory.
“Deepak Sathe was a loving husband and caring father and we are deeply pained by his tragic demise. He was a family man and loved to spend time with family and friends whenever possible. He was a calm, composed, simple, and genuine person who persistently imbued happiness in people around him,” said his wife and his sons in a special tribute.
They described him as warm with friends and acquaintances alike, careful and meticulous in his ways, and who always pursued excellence.
“He instilled in the children the importance of an honest day’s work, and a good night’s sleep. He infused in us a love for sport and the outdoors, the inquisitiveness to try novel experiences and an enthusiasm to explore new lands and varied cuisine. He will remain in our hearts forever,” said the Sathe family.