It was a mystery waiting to be solved for more than 35 years. When some members of a trekking party from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute went up the South Dakka Glacier in the Chandra Bagga hill range in Northern Himachal, they stumbled across a half-intact human corpse. The body was of an Indian Army Soldier Pioneer Beli Ram – Some documents with his service number were recorded. His name and number feature in the list of passengers taken from the Indian Army database related to the crash of an An-12 that occurred in 1968.
According to a Hindustan Times report published quite some time back in Hindustan Times (now available at http://warbirdsofindia.com/Crashes ) An An-12 (BL-534) piloted by Fg Offr HK Singh (Seen left) with Sqn Ldr Malhotra as his co-pilot went missing over the Banihal pass on 7th February 1968. In spite of fullfledged operations, the wreckage and the remains of its 98 passengers were never found – and some of the next of kin of those lost still believe that the aircraft somehow strayed into Pakistan and the crew and passengers still languish there as POWs.
Once it became clear that there could be more bodies and more wreckage the Indian Army and Air Force were quick in dispatching a team to the crash site. After struggling for weeks against the elements, the team recovered more human remains and also the first clues on why the aircraft crashed. It appears that the crew began the descent earlier than was the usual practice and hit the CB13 peak before falling into the Dakka Glacier. Somehow the wreckage and bodies got thrown up over the years and surfaced down the glacier.
This incident has very strong resemblances to the Missing York aircraft “Stardust” in 1947. That aircraft also went missing after crashing in a glacier and came to the surface only after 50 years!
Presented here are a series of links for future research.
27-Jun In search of her husband missing for 35 years
3-Aug Body of Indian soldier found after 35 years
3-Aug Soldier’s body found in Himalayas after 35 years of death
3-Aug Soldier’s family’s 35 year wait ends
4-Aug Warm memories of a frozen life : Flt Lt MS Bains
5-Aug Army and IAF clueless on missing AN-12
6-Aug A Wish realised after 35 Years & Air Force to retrieve plane wreckage
6-Aug The flight not taken saved this officer’s life
7-Aug India searches for lost aircraft http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3133009.stm
7-Aug Forces abandon recce to retrieve soldiers’ bodies
7-Aug 35 years after 98 men their flying machine went down someone’s going up to search
7-Aug A search for the dead after 35 years
7-Aug VK Mehra: 500 sorties failed to locate AN-12 says engineer
8-Aug Missing AN-12: Troops to get marching today
8-Aug Capt PR Jose: I was lucky Beli Ram’s flight had no seat for me
9-Aug And they set off to break the ice crack the puzzle
10-Aug AN-12 crash: Picking up pieces of past
11-Aug Help her locate her husband
11-Aug Kin of crash victims relive tragedy
11-Aug AN-12 crash: Bad weather hits rescue efforts
12-Aug I believe he is in Pak jail
12-Aug Search team spots AN-12 debris near Rohtang
13-Aug AM TN Ghadiok’s comments on the Incident
13-Aug IAF finds parts of AN-12 that crashed in ’68
13-Aug From melting snow emerges the story of another missing soldier
13-Aug Operation Punaruthan progresses slowly
13-Aug DNA test to identify skeletons of plane crash victims
13-Aug Army plans DNA tests on Dakka crash victims
13-Aug Searching for Lost comarades
14-Aug After 35 yrs , Beli Ram put to rest
20-Aug Army-Air Force cold war over Beli’s frozen body
21-Aug Second IAF team to search for bodies at 35-yr-old crash site
23-Aug Air Cde RS Sehgal: there was shocked silence in our cockpit
27-Aug AM SG Inamdar: Message in a bottle to a man who just flew into wilderness
2005 Retrieving the Relics