Monday, June 8, 2015

Indian Air Force (IAF) Remembers Late Flying Officer Anil Kumar

 A play in the Air Force Auditorium was enacted on life story of Flying Officer MP ‘Anil Kumar who was a MiG-21 pilot in the Indian Air Force in 1988.

This accident occurred on 28 June 1988 while he was returning to the Officers’ Mess after night flying.  He was on a motorcycle. It was raining and he did not see the newly erected security barrier.  MP Anil Kumar hit the barrier and took the impact on his neck.  It broke his neck and since then (1988) MP was confined to the paraplegic home in the Military Hospital at Kirkee in Pune.

MP was paralyzed  below the neck.  He was dependent on caretakers for every need.  This was 1988 and there were no personal computers, no Internet.  Multiple surgeries to improve his condition proved  futile.  After two years of lying like a vegetable in the paraplegic home, MP decided it was time to move on and do what he could with the resources he had left.

With movement only above his neck, MP taught himself to write with a pen clenched between his teeth.  Each letter was a victory and the result of enormous effort and sacrifice.

His articles on military history and current affairs began to get published.

He was a regular columnist with the Indian Express, news portal Indian Defence Review (IDR) and the Purple Beret to name a few.  His article was included in the Defence section of the popular book “India Empowered”  along with luminaries like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr. Manmohan Singh.  His autobiographical article ‘Airborne to Chairborne’ was included in English text books in Maharashtra and Kerala.  If ever there was a person who accepted and lived with adversity, it was MP Anil Kumar.

Students began writing about him and drew inspiration from the fighter pilot who refused to stay grounded. MP did not stop at  writing.  With the earnings from his work, he sponsored two under privileged girls through school.  He paralyzed at the neck and below, supported his mother financially.

Early in 2014, after lying paralyzed for 26 years, MP Anil Kumar was diagnosed with cancer.  He fought it with all his might but on 20 May 2014, he succumbed.        Few people go through a lifetime without facing adversity.  Some give up,  some accept it and a few fight back with grace and become icons in their own lifetimes.

No one thought that MP Anil would become an icon without lifting a finger.  Yet that is what he did. This entire life story which was relived, was conceptualised by Mrs. Tinku Srivastava and funded by Mr. Haridas.  This beautiful life enacting programme was choreographed by Mr. Bhatta and Mukherjee.

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