Zee Media Bureau
Srinagar: A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday morning, leaving the pilot dead.
The jet crashed about 10 km short of the Awantipur air base, in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district, at around 10:45 am. The MIG-21, which was on a routine exercise, crashed in the fields at Mirhama, killing pilot Raghu Bansi.
The MIG-21 had taken off from Technical Airport here this morning, defence sources said.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known. A team of IAF officials have rushed to the spot.
"The pilot of the fighter plane, Squadron Leader Raghu Bansi, died in this crash," an official said.
"His body has been ... airlifted to the IAF field station. Army, IAF and police teams are at the crash site. The debris of the aircraft are being removed by IAF personnel," the official said.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, who took charge earlier in the day, said he was "extremely sorry" to learn about the accident and called it a "matter of great concern".
The Air Force has ordered a court of inquiry.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to microblogging website Twitter to urge the new government to sort out "defence procurement issue" for the Indian armed forces.
Not entirely disconnected from today's crash the new Govt needs to sort of defence procurement issue for Navy, AirForce & Army ASAP.
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) May 27, 2014
Expressing grief over the death of the pilot in the crash, the Chief Minister said, "My condolences to the family, friends & colleagues of the pilot killed in the MIG crash today. May his soul rest in peace."
The IAF had inducted over 900 MiG-21s in its fleet over a period of 40 years, half of which were lost in different crashes.