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Squadron Leader Vijay Kumar successfully protected Bhuj airport during the 1971 war, let’s praise him

During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Pakistan attacked India. Eight squadrons intruded into India and dropped more than 14 napalm bombs on Bhuj which destroyed the Indian Air Force airstrips. The airfield was raided 35 times in 14 days with attacks by 92 bombs and 22 rockets.

Bhuj Airport is a domestic airport which is located in Bhuj in the Kutch District of the state of Gujarat, India. It is just 4 km far from Bhuj. It is situated at an altitude of 257 feet (78 m) and occupies a total area of 832 acres. It is located 30 miles (48 km) from the Indo-Pakistan border.

In 1971 war the Air Force base commander was Squadron Leader Vijay Kumar Karnik. He and his 2 officers with 50 air force and 60 DSC personnel defended air base operational and gave a befitting response to Pakistan. A group of 300 women was given a task to rebuild airstrip in 72 hours and they risked their lives to complete the task. Later the Government of India honored these women with a cash prize of ₹ 50,000.

(Photo: The Better India)

Born on 6 Nov 1939, Vijay Kumar has served as the Wing Commander in the Indian Air Force (IAF). He did his schooling from Nagpur and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Science from Nagpur University in Wardha. On 26 May 1962, he was inducted into the Indian Air Force. He served as a Squadron leader in Bhuj during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. He also played a great role during the 1962 and 1965 war, but he is popularly known for his contribution during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. 

In 2005, then Member of Parliament from Kutch, Pushpdan Gadhavi, as well as Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, approached the Ministry of Civil Aviation with a request to rename the airport after revolutionary freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma. But then Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel did not pay attention to the request and finally refused to rename, stating that foreigners might not be able to find the airport if it was named after someone.

In 2001, an earthquake struck in Gujarat leaving the airport damaged. Later, it was renovated at a cost of 400 million. The renovated terminal was dedicated in 2003 by then Deputy Prime Minister of India, Lal Krishna Advani.

Written by Dharam Sikarwar

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