Odisha govt to bring back Biju Patnaik's historic Dakota

Bhubaneswar, Jan 16 (PTI) Odisha government Thursday decided to bring back the historic Dakota aircraft of former chief minister Biju Patnaik which he had used to rescue Sultan Sjahrir, the erstwhile prime minister of Indonesia from a jungle hideout in 1947.

The decision to bring back the aircraft kept at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, was taken at a high level meeting convened by chief secretary A K Tripathy, officials said.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) had sent repeated reminders to the state government to take back the aircraft.

Biju Patnaik, who was an ace pilot, with his wife had flown the Dakota to Java and rescued Sjahrir on the instructions of the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who viewed the freedom struggle of Indonesia from the Dutch colonial powers as parallel to that of India and viewed that country as a potential ally.

After rescuing Sultan Sjahrir in a daring act, he had returned to India via Singapore on July 24, 1947. A grateful Indonesia twice decorated Biju Patnaik with its highest civilian honour Bhumiputra for his bravery.

The state government in-principle today decided to bring back Biju Patnaiks Dakota aircraft from Kolkata. Later, we will decide where to preserve it, said Manoj Mishra, the special secretary to the state commerce and transport departments.

Mishra said the state government will soon write to the civil aviation ministry to take steps to facilitate Odisha government in bringing back the aircraft.

State government officials said that the aircraft is likely to be transported to Odisha by road. It may be dismantled and brought to the state after which it would be reassembled to give back its earlier look.

The aircraft is likely to be kept in the premises of Biju Patnaik International Airport here, they said.

Patnaik had 14 aircraft and the Dakota was said to be his favourite. PTI AAM KK KK KK