DHARAMSHALA: Villagers of Fatehpur in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district performed a ‘Havan’ (Religious Ritual) late on Saturday at the site where a MiG-21 plane had crashed on July 18, to commemorate the sacrifice of Sqd Ldr Meet Kumar, who was killed in the accident.

Residents believe that Kumar, instead of saving his own life by evacuating the aircraft on time, secured the life of the villagers by veering the plane to a deserted area after it caught fire mid-air. The heroic act protected the heavily populated Fatehpur — inhabited by over 50 families. 

As a tribute to the brave pilot, villagers organised the Havan, where Kumar’s father and brother were also present. Ramesh Chand — owner of the land where the plane crashed — declared that he will donate the plot to build a memorial for Kumar. A villagers’ body has sought the government’s assistance in building a temple and a memorial at site.

The pilot’s proud father, Parveen Kumar, teared up while addressing the villagers. “My son was a martyr and I am moved by the gesture. We are always ready to help the people of this area in every way possible. I will ask the chief minister to set up an educational institute in this region,” he said.