New Delhi: On a day that India took a "giant leap" in its deterrence capability with the successful test launch of the canister-mounted Agni missile, the driving force behind the development of the weapon platform, DRDO chief Avinash Chander, marked his last day at the helm of the agency which he said he was leaving a satisfied man.
Chander, often referred to as the 'Agni Man' for his work towards the development of the successful missile platform, congratulated the entire DRDO community for the tremendous effort put in by them for making the country self-reliant in the area of long-range missile systems.
It was an emotional day for Chander, whose contract was terminated by the government earlier this month, as he saw the nuclear capable inter-continental ballistic missile, which was about 17-m-long and weighed over 50 tonnes, majestically escape the confines of its canister.
"I cherished every moment of my service in DRDO and I thank you all for the relentless support given to me all through. I am leaving with the great satisfaction of equipping the country with such advanced missiles. I wish the entire DRDO community a great future," he said on Wheeler's Island off the Odisha coast, where the test was conducted.
Official sources said that a farewell was organised for him by DRDO and he appeared "happy, jubilant and emotional, with a sense of achievement".
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had recommended the termination of Chander's contract, too, congratulated DRDO upon the successful launch today.
"DRDO has its successes also. No one has questioned DRDO's capabilities and successes. But I think one should not step back from doing more. There should be more success, more activity," Parrikar told reporters here.
The government had on January 13 removed Chander with effect from today, 15 months before his contract was to end. Parrikar had later said that he wanted to have a younger person at the helm of DRDO.
Defence Secretary R K Mathur was yesterday given additional charge of DRDO.