New Delhi/Itanagar: A fresh request from the US to resume the search for the remains of American pilots who perished after their planes crashed in the jungles of Northeast India during World War-II has reawakened interest in Arunachal Pradesh.
According to information received, the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) has said: “it is a humanitarian issue and should be dealt in a humanitarian manner.”
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told media persons: “A request by the US, in the North East they perhaps would like to visit some places where there are remains of perhaps of they feel there are remains of pilots who are involved in WWII.
“This is not a new request we have similar request several years ago and at that stage we did permit some officials to visit there they did not find anything at that time. Perhaps they have some further information (now), it is a humanitarian cause and it is dealt as humanitarian issue not only by us but by several neighbours. We need to respond on a humanitarian manner.”
It is worth mentioning here that the first wreckage of a fighter plane of the Allied forces engaged in re-supply mission during World War-II was detected on a hilltop overlooking Itanagar, and the event was reported in the March 18, 2008.
American adventurer Clayton Kuhles had found the wreckage during a trek to Dariya Hill in October 2007 with tour operator Oken Tayeng. That the wreckage belonged to an American pilot was confirmed on the basis of a bracelet found on his body.
Tayeng has also helped Khules in identifying crash sites at eight locations in Lohit, Dibang Valley and Upper Siang districts. Before finding the Itanagar wreckage, they had discovered another in Damro in East Siang district - a fighter plane, nicknamed ‘Hot as Hell’.
According to JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) reports, over 78,000 Americans are still missing from World War II, 1,632 of them in the China/Burma/India theatre. It is believed that approximately 430 of those service members are located in India.
Over the years, wreckages of MIA (missing-in-action) US fighter planes have been recovered from various parts of Arunachal, including Sagalee, Anini, Donli, Aalo, Tezu, Damroh and Chayang Tajo.
On June 20, 2010, Tani Bagang, a school teacher-cum-adventure lover discovered the wreckage of another WW-II US aircraft, with ‘ST 95T6 BLACK HAWK 7.26.1943 SPMCO’ inscribed on it, near Lolum village in East Kameng. Parts of a human skeleton – believed to be that of the pilot – were also found scattered around the crash site.
On March 2, 2012, three more such wreckages along with parts of human skeletons were found in the dense forests of Changlang district.
The Allies lost hundreds of aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh during WWII, due to the region’s inhospitable terrain, unpredictable weather and mechanical failure, while maintaining a supply line to Allied forces fighting against the Japanese.
Any finding of wreckage is reported to the JPAC for verification and, on identification of pilots and crew-members, family members are intimated. (ANI)